Mark Oliphant Biography
(Australian Physicist Who Played an Important Role in the First Experimental Demonstration of Nuclear Fusion)
Birthday: October 8, 1901 (Libra)
Born In: Adelaide, Australia
Sir Marcus "Mark" Laurence Elwin Oliphant was an Australian physicist who played a vital role in the development of nuclear weapons. Credited to have discovered the nuclei of helium-3 (helions) and tritium (tritons), he was instrumental in the first experimental demonstration of nuclear fusion that ultimately led to the development of nuclear weapons. A graduate of the University of Adelaide, his first career aspiration was to become a doctor. However, he shifted his focus to physics on the advice of his physics professor. He excelled in the subject and went on to become a specialist in high-energy physics at the University of Cambridge’s Cavendish Laboratory where he became known for his work on sub-atomic particles. During the World War II, he worked on the Manhattan Project in the U.S. which culminated in the designing and creation of the first atomic bombs. In addition to being a brilliant scientist, he was also a humanitarian who fiercely opposed the usage of the atomic bombs for warfare and was appalled by the dropping of the atomic bombs on Japan. He eventually became a founder member of the Pugwash Movement of scientists against nuclear weapons and avoided all research of a military nature.