Rudolph Peierls, the son of a Jewish businessman, was born in Berlin, Germany, on 5th June, 1907. He studied nuclear physics under Werner Heisenberg and in 1929 he conceived the theory of positive carriers to explain the thermal and electrical conductiveness of semi-conductors.
When Adolf Hitler gained power he moved to England where he found work teaching physics at Birmingham University and in 1939 worked on atomic research with James Chadwick and Otto Frisch. In 1940 Peierls and Frisch wrote a paper that explained how a uranium fission bomb could become a weapon that could win the Second World War.
In 1943 Peierls joined the Manhattan Project. In the United States. Over the next two years he worked with Robert Oppenheimer, Edward Teller, Otto Frisch, Felix Bloch, Enrico Fermi, David Bohm, James Chadwick, James Franck, Emilio Segre, Eugene Wigner, Leo Szilard and Klaus Fuchs in developing the atom bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
After the war Peierls was professor of physics at Birmingham University (1945-63) and Oxford University (1963-74). He wrote several books including The Laws of Nature (1955), Surprises in Theoretical Physics (1979) and an autobiography, Bird of Passage (1985). Rudolph Peierls died in Oxford on 19th September, 1995.