Fritz Goro Nuclear Fission - Splitting of U-235 Atom
Medium Silver print
Photo Date 1939 Print Date 1939
Dimensions 10-1/2 x 11-1/2 in. (267 x 292 mm)
Photo Country United States (USA)
Photographer Country United States (USA)
Contact Alex Novak and Marthe Smith
About This Image
A moment of atom history. An oscilloscope in Enrico Fermi's lab registers the fission of a uranium atom. High peaks of 200,000,000 electron volts discharge at the splitting of U-235 atoms at Columbia University, NY. On January 25, 1939 the Columbia University team conducted the first nuclear fission experiment in the United States, which was done in the basement of Pupin Hall; in addition to Fermi, the other members of the team were Herbert L. Anderson, Eugene T. Booth, John R. Dunning, G. Norris Glasoe, and Francis G. Slack. Used in LIFE book: LIFE Science Library - Energy pg. 166. LIFE book stamp on verso. SEE also LIFE April 24, 1939 pg. 52 and LIFE August 20, 1945.
Fritz Goro (originally Goreau) (1901 - 1986) was born in Bremen Germany. He was the inventor of macrophotography and is considered one of the most original and accomplished photographers of science who has ever lived. His work was published in numerous magazines including Vu, La Journal, Vogue, National Geographic, Scientific American and LIFE where he worked from its inception in 1936 as a Black Star photographer and later was on contract then staff from 1942 – 1971. He studied sculpture and design under Walter Gropius at the Bauhaus school and had a successful career at the two largest publishing firms in Germany, Berliner Illustrierre Zeitung (BIZ) at Ullstein and Munchner Illustrierte Presse (MIP) where he worked as assistant ME to Stefan Lorant, until political events brought it to a sudden halt in 1933. That year Goro and his sculptress wife, Grete, were vacationing in Austria when word came that the Nazi government had arrested all his colleagues and taken over the firm, "One day I was a highly paid publishing executive," he said "and the next we were sitting in a foreign city with maybe 200 marks, some ski clothes and a Leica. We had to start a new life."
He went to Paris and worked as a photographer, then immigrated to America settling in New York. In 1937 he shot a story for LIFE about Cape Cod beaches. While there the editors sent him to check out Woods Hole Marine Biological Laboratory which is where his love for photographing science began. He began focusing on subjects "more knowledgeable photographers might have considered completely unphotographable" inventing new methods along the way.
In an essay for American Journalism, C. Zoe Smith said, “He produced essays on the anthropology of primitive people, archaeology, paleontology, geology, geophysics, oceanography and marine biology, genetics, and genetic manipulation, plant physiology and animal behavior, medicine, psychiatry and mental health.” FYI , Time Inc.’s company newspaper, said, “His avid interest in his subjects often won the confidence of skeptical scientists, including one who, although at first resentful, ended up working 48 hours straight without food or sleep to help Goro prepare a shot of capillary blood flow.” In 1942 he made his first essay for Polaroid on quinine and continued experimenting with Polaroid technologies throughout his career. In 1945 he made the first photographs of blood circulation in living animals and in the 60’s focused on the structure of DNA and RNA. He traveled on 4 expeditions to the Arctic and accompanied Admiral Richard Byrd to the Antarctic. Other assignments included photographing laser beams, soap bubbles, the excavation of a Mayan city, the Great Barrier Reef, and areas of the Australian outback no white man had ever visited.
He received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Society of Magazine Photographers in 1978. He died at his home in Chappaqua, NY from complications related to cancer.
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