October 5: The Nuclear Whistle-Blower

Israel’s possession of nuclear weapons was reported for the first time by the British Sunday Times on this date in 1986, based on information and photographs leaked by Mordechai Vanunu, a former nuclear technician. Vanunu would be kidnapped in Italy by the Mossad and jailed in Israel for eighteen years, eleven of them in solitary […]

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June 30: Paul Berg

Biochemist Paul Berg, who shared the 1980 Nobel Prize for Chemistry, was born in Brooklyn on this date in 1926. Berg is best known for his pioneering research with recombinant DNA — work that set the stage for modern genetic engineering — yet in 1974, he joined other scientists in calling for a moratorium on […]

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March 23: Erich Fromm

Humanistic philosopher and psychologist Erich Fromm was born on this date in 1900 in Frankfurt, Germany. He was a student of the Talmud and used Jewish texts and imagery as touchstones for his political and psychological insights long after he left the world of Orthodox observance at the age of 26. Fromm’s attachment to Judaism […]

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February 11: Leó Szilárd

Hungarian physicist Leó Szilárd was born on this date in 1898. After fleeing from Berlin to London as the Nazis came to power in 1933, Szilárd conceived and patented the idea of a nuclear chain reaction (he also patented, with Enrico Fermi, the first nuclear reactor). At Columbia University five years later, he and Fermi […]

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