Manhattan Project scientist draws large crowds at universities

Updated: 2014-04-21 19:02

By ZHU LIXIN in Hefei, Anhui (

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Wherever he goes in China, Roy Jay Glauber always attracts enormous attention among science students.

During a recent string of lectures at several Chinese universities — the latest one on April 18 at the University of Science and Technology of China — young students most frequently asked him about his expertise in quantum optics, which won him a share of the 2005 Nobel Prize in physics.

"Students don't raise many questions in America or in China during large lectures. The lecturers just sound off the lecture and the students ask no questions," said Glauber a day before the April 18 lecture.

To his surprise, nearly 500 students crowded into the 250-seat lecture hall at the university on Friday morning. The lecture lasted for more than two hours and he was bombarded with question after question.

Many of the young students were interested in the 89-year-old scientist's participation in the Manhattan Project during the World War II.

"I am at an age where most of the people who were in the project were older than I am are now gone. If anyone wants to hear this story, I can tell him," said the Harvard professor, who was recruited into the project in 1943 at the age of 18.

His work in the project involved calculating the critical mass for the atomic bomb.