Frank Oppenheimer facts


Like Chuck Norris, but better, because they're all true. Alice Bell introduces us to the crazy, amazing world of the little brother of the Father of the Atomic Bomb.

FACT As a child, Frank Oppenheimer discovered his own sperm using a microscope. He later called it "most wonderful scientific discovery that I ever made".

FACT J. Robert Oppenheimer accused his little brother of being "slow" because it took Frank a bit longer than average to finish up his Ph.D. The real reason for the delay: Frank had joined the Communist Party and was absorbed in Great Depression-era political and social justice work.

FACT After getting blackballed out of academia during the Red Scare in the late 1940s, Frank bought a cattle ranch in rural Colorado and became a high school science teacher. There, he taught kids about thermodynamics via trips to the city dump to scavenge machine parts, and augmented a lesson on the biology of the ear by killing and dissecting a kitten. His experiences teaching science to kids later led him to found The Exploratorium.

FACT Thanks to The Exploratorium website, I now know that there is a very fine line between making something cuter, and making it hellishly creepy. Thanks, Dr. Oppenheimer!

There's more at the Guardian Science Blog: Frank Oppenheimer

Image of Frank Oppenheimer courtesy The Exploratorium, used via CC