Young People's

Espionage and Intrigue in the World of Nuclear Physics

Professor Frank Close OBE
6th March 2017, 6:00pm
Manchester Conference Centre (Sackville Street)

When the spooks of MI5 discovered that there had been a British spy in the Atomic Bomb Manhattan Project, at first they couldn't decide if it was Rudolf Peierls – the father of the bomb, who first realised how to build the weapon, or Klaus Fuchs, his colleague, who lived in the Peierls’ household like a son. What information did Fuchs pass to the USSR; what evidence was there; why did he do it and why did he confess? And why, soon after Fuchs’ arrest, did his colleague Bruno Pontecorvo defect to the USSR as the Cold War threatened to turn hot? For the first time a scientist has examined previously unseen documents and unravelled a surprising tale – of love and betrayal, of duplicity, and of questionable behaviour by the Establishment. This will be based on his book 'Half Life – Bruno Pontecorvo, physicist or spy', and his upcoming book 'Trinity'.

About the Speaker

Frank Close OBE is Professor Emeritus of Theoretical Physics at Oxford University. He was formerly Head of Theoretical Physics at Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, and of Communications and Public Education at CERN. He won the Institute of Physics Kelvin Medal in 1996, and in 2014 won the Royal Society's Michael Faraday Prize for Science Communication. Unique among scientists he has won the British Science Writers Prize on three occasions. He is the author of many books including Neutrino, Antimatter, The Infinity Puzzle, - the story of the quest to discover the Higgs Boson, - and most recently 'Half-Life', a biography of physicist and alleged spy Bruno Pontecorvo. He is currently writing 'Trinity' – the story of the atomic bomb’s father, Rudolph Peierls, his colleague and metaphorical son Klaus Fuchs, and the spooks of MI5’s as they attempted to decide which of them was the spy.


Menu for Supper

For School Bookings: pizza and refreshments before the lecture (6pm).

For Members of the SocietyClassic beef lasagne or breaded haddock with caper and watercress mayonnaise or mature cheddar & red onion pie (v) with a choice of sides from the following: steamed new potatoes, medley of roasted root vegetables and penne pasta with tomato dressing

Citrus tart or Raspberry Bavarois

This will be served after the lecture (8:15pm), although teas and coffees will be served for Members before the lecture from 6pm so that there is a chance to socialise with the school students.

N.B. the Lit & Phil office have to inform venues of catering numbers approximately 7 days before an event so please make sure you book as early as possible to avoid disappointment.


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If you are no longer able to attend the lecture, please make sure to cancel your booking via the link on your ticket or inform the office so that someone from the waiting list can attend.