Summary[ edit ] The spirits of Werner Heisenberg, Niels Bohr and Bohr's wife Margrethe, meet after their deaths to attempt to answer the question that Margrethe poses in the first line of the play, "Why did he [Heisenberg] come to Copenhagen? Heisenberg — "No one understands my trip to Copenhagen. To Bohr himself, and Margrethe. To interrogators and intelligence officers, to journalists and historians.
Victor Weisskopf makes a cameo appearance on the left, in the back. Did Heisenberg try to sabotage the German bomb project? What do historians think, in the end, that Heisenberg was trying to do when he visited his mentor Niels Bohr in occupied Copenhagen in the fall of ?
These questions, often without saying so explicitly, tend to stem from one source these days: This pair of questions, as a pair of cities Hiroshima and Copenhagenis interesting to me as a historian. One rooted in a controversial act of war, the other in a controversial piece of theatre.
It is, perhaps, more of a testament to the theatre to get people at least some people thinking about history than one might typically suspect — that Americans think about Hiroshima is perhaps as it ought to be, that they think about Copenhagen is far more curious.
One of my last acts at Berkeley was to design the cover for an excellent volume of historical essays on the play. So the play has had a remarkably large role in my early interest in nuclear history.
Aside from giving me a chance to visit my old grad school stomping grounds the first time, I think, since I started my current jobit also gave me a fresh excuse to revisit the play, about a decade after I last spent any real time thinking about it.
What did Heisenberg and Bohr talk about in ? I think the main response from historians that you are likely to get is: Which is to say, not much of an answer. Niels and Margrethe Bohr, on the motorcycle of George Gamow, The Bohr letters released in are an example of this.
Bohr, infuriated that Heisenberg might be saying such a thing, wrote a strongly-worded language arguing for the opposite.
In any case, the point is simple enough: One might also point out as the play does that in the end, Bohr was the one who did contribute towards making a weapon of mass destructionnot Heisenberg, and for Bohr to think that Heisenberg was attempting to claim a moral high-ground as a result would have been particularly galling.
And memories are, of course, tricky things, as any psychologist will tell you. One meeting is generally not the stuff that history is made of.
Allied troops disassembling the German experimental research reactor at Haigerloch, as part of the Alsos mission. But it might appear to give an one of those questions that people have been asking since But here also is where the historians might be annoying and pedantic. There are very few historians who believe that Heisenberg or any of the Germans working on the project were actively trying to avoid making an atomic bomb.
It leaves up in the air whether Heisenberg was trying to sabotage consciously or notmaking it seem that this is as equally plausible an interpretation as any other. This can be misleading. In fact, it seems to have been offered up, quite post-hoc, as an explanation while the German scientists were being interred at Farm Hall and trying to grapple with the meaning of Hiroshima.
Because the American case is the anomaly, not the German case. The Americans ended up for various reasons thinking it could be done; the Germans thought it was not worth the risk and expense. The Americans, in any case, barely pulled it off.
Had their schedule been off by a few months, there would have been no atomic bombs ready for use during World War II, and the Manhattan Project still holds the world record for fastest time between deciding to make a nuclear weapon and actually having one. Heisenberg and Bohr in Copenhagen in the early s.
If Copenhagen errs this is where it errs:Michael Frayn is an English playwright and novelist. He is best known as the author of the farce Noises Off and the dramas Copenhagen and Democracy. His novels, such as Towards the End of the Morning, Headlong and Spies, have also been critical and commercial successes, making him one of the handful of writers in the English language to succeed in both drama and prose fiction.4/5.
This one-page guide includes a plot summary and brief analysis of Copenhagen by Michael Frayn. With a debut performance in , Michael Frayn’s play Copenhagen, set in , centers on fictionalized versions of physicists Niels Bohr and Werner Heisenberg, as well as Bohr’s wife, Margrethe.
Michael Frayn's Copenhagen in Debate: Historical Essays and Documents on the Meeting between Niels Bohr and Werner Heisenberg; Copenhagen Symposium at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York; Heisenberg wanted to help Bohr.
A new document about the meeting of the two physicists in Copenhagen in In Michael Frayn’s Copenhagen, a fictional account of an actual event during World War II, two physicists exchange heated words and profound ideas.
One man, Werner Heisenberg, seeks to harness the power of the atom for Germany’s forces. Nov 24, · Copenhagen reflects the images of atomic physics. The home of Niels Bohr is an atomic nucleus, around which Bohr and his wife revolve. They are two particles bombarded by . The final line of Michael Frayn's Copenhagen suggests an approach to reading the entire work that looks at the inseparable scientific and dramatic elements of the play.
Heisenberg says that no one will ever fully understand the meeting in Copenhagen between himself and .