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the mind. He attended the Ethical Culture School in New York, one of the best in the city. He was more interested in his homework, in poetry and in science than in mixing with other boys. He has said, 'It is characteristic that I do not remember any of my classmates.'
Already at the age of 5, Robert collected mineralogical specimens, some of which came from his grandfather in Germany. By the time he was 11 years old his collection was so good and his knowledge so extensive that he was admitted to membership in the Mineralogical Club in New York.
He entered Harvard in 1922 intending to become a chemist, but soon switched to physics. It was characteristic of him not to abandon a subject once he had become interested. Familiarity with chemistry was very useful to him in his Los Alamos days when purification of fissionable materials was one of the main problems of the laboratory. He also retained a lifetime affection for Harvard University, where he was a Member of the Board of Overseers from 1949 to 1955.
At Harvard he was strongly influenced by Professor Percy W. Bridgman, a great and very original experimental physicist. Apart from this, he kept much to himself and devoured knowledge. 'I had a real chance to learn,' he said. 'I loved it. I almost came alive. I took more courses than I was supposed to, lived in the library stacks, just raided the place intellectually.' In addition to studying physics and chemistry, he learned Latin and Greek and was graduated summa cum laude in 1925, having taken three years for the normal four-year course.
His work for the Ph.D. was even more astonishingly rapid: two years sufficed while the present average time required in the United States is four to five years.
After his B.A. degree he travelled for four years to the great centres of physics in Europe. The year 1925 to 1926