Philip Morrison, noted physicist, dies

April 26, 2005 at 10:50 AM
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CAMBRIDGE, Mass., April 26 (UPI) -- Philip Morrison, who helped assemble the first U.S. atomic bomb and later hosted the popular PBS science series, "Ring of Truth," has died at age 89.

Morrison, who overcame childhood polio to gain a physics professorship at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, died Friday while sleeping at his home in Cambridge, Mass., the New York Times reported Tuesday.

Known as a spellbinding lecturer, his talks and writings helped explain particle physics to several generations of U.S. residents.

"Nobody else has better demonstrated, or rather embodied, what it means to the human soul to perceive or recognize a new scientific discovery or a new theoretical insight," said Victor Weisskopf, another MIT professor, on Morrison's 60th birthday.

Morrison grew up in Pittsburgh and obtained a Ph.D. in physics at the University of California, Berkeley, under J. Robert Oppenheimer, with whom he later worked on the Manhattan Project, which produced the nation's first atomic bomb.

His first marriage, to Emily Morrison of Boston, ended in divorce. Phyllis, his second wife, died in 2002. He is survived by a stepson.

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