Memoir

Alvin M. Weinberg

Oak Ridge Associated Universities

April 20, 1915 - October 18, 2006


Election Year: 1961
Scientific Discipline: Applied Physical Sciences
Membership Type: Member

Alvin M. Weinberg was a pioneer in the field of nuclear physics who contributed to the development of the nuclear energy industry. Though Weinberg is well known for his work with nuclear reactors, he is also highly cited in the field of mathematical biology for his early contributions to the mathematical theory of nerve conduction. Upon his transition into the field of nuclear physics, Weinberg standardized calculation methods for computing nuclear reactors. Moreover, his leadership of the Oak Ridge National Laboratory earned him recognition as a leading expert in the development of nuclear reactors.

Weinberg attended the University of Chicago, graduating in 1935 and earning his PhD in 1939. He initially entered the field of mathematical biology, but soon made the transition to nuclear reactor physics. In 1945, at just thirty years of age, he assumed a position as section chief of physics for the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL). Within ten years Weinberg became director of the entire facility. In 1974 he was appointed director of research and development policy for the federal government. Upon retirement from this line of work, Weinberg returned to ORNL and established the Institute for Energy Analysis, a notable think tank promoting the development of renewable energy.

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