OBITUARIES : Henry Smyth; Wrote Report on 1st A-Bomb

From Times Wire Services

Physicist Henry DeWolf Smyth, the Princeton University professor who wrote the first official public report on the atomic bomb and later became a leading member of the Atomic Energy Commission, has died at 88.

Smyth died Sept. 10 of cardiac arrest after a long fight against cancer, according to a university spokesman.

He was member of the Princeton faculty from 1924 until his retirement in 1966, serving as chairman of the physics department from 1935 to 1945.


During World War II, he was a consultant to the super-secret Manhattan Project, which produced the first atomic bomb. His report, “Atomic Energy for Military Purposes,” written in 1944 but not released until a few days after the first A-bomb was dropped on Hiroshima in 1945, became an immediate best seller.

Smyth was appointed to the AEC by President Harry S. Truman in 1949. He resigned in September, 1954, three months after he stood alone against three other commissioners who had voted not to restore Dr. J. Robert Oppenheimer’s access to nuclear secrets.

President John F. Kennedy appointed him as the U.S. representative to the International Atomic Energy Agency in 1961, a post he held until 1970.