Segments in this Video

Physicist I. I. Rabi (02:52)


1944 Nobel Laureate I.I. Rabi begins a lifetime teaching career at Columbia University in 1929. During WWII, he works on the development of radar and the atomic bomb.

First Nuclear Explosion (03:46)

Film host Bill Moyers discusses the first nuclear bomb explosion with eyewitness I. I. Rabi. Rabi praises the scientists who worked on the project.

American vs. German Scientists (03:09)

Among American scientists, there was fear that the Nazis would create a nuclear bomb first, so there was incentive to get the bomb made as soon as possible. Nazi anti-Semitism forces out some of the best scientists.

Radar and How It Works (04:27)

I. I. Rabi achieves distinction for his work in radar. Radar was truly the "hidden weapon" of WWII. An archival newsreel presents the wonder and value of radar. An explanation of how radar works is included.

Atomic Bomb Attack on Japan (03:20)

Bill Moyers and I. I. Rabi discuss the atomic bomb and Hiroshima. Rabi believes the attack was psychologically healthy for Americans to answer the Japanese for their surprise attack on Pearl Harbor.

Societal Destruction (02:43)

Savage violence against a society can destroy it. Once society becomes disorganized and mob mentality rules, the society itself is ruined. I. I. Rabi asserts that America is vulnerable to the same kind of attack as in Hiroshima.

McCarthy Phenomenon (03:16)

The McCarthy phenomenon represents a most profound threat against American democracy. McCarthy's actions take a toll on American society. A single man has the entire country scared, from the President on down.

Robert Oppenheimer (08:17)

In 1943, the U.S. government asks J. Robert Oppenheimer to head the Los Alamos laboratory where the atomic bomb would be developed. In the McCarthy era Oppenheimer is denounced as a security risk. LBJ later clears his name.

I. I. Rabi's Early Years (03:13)

Rabi arrives as an immigrant when he is two years old with his father and mother. His father works in a sweat shop with no job security. Rabi grows up on New York's Lower East Side.

New York City Schools (01:59)

As a boy, Rabi attends New York City's public school system. In those days, young boys are steeped in the history of America and taught to love the republic of American states. They come to appreciate rationality and science.

Brooklyn Public Library (02:19)

When Rabi's family moves to Brooklyn, the boy falls in love with the public library. At home his only books are prayer books, the Bible, and schoolbooks. Books open up new worlds to Rabi.

Evolution of Physics in America (03:10)

At the turn of the century young people travel to Europe to study physics. In the first 200 years of American history, only Benjamin Franklin and one other are associated with physics. By 1940 everything has changed.

Value of Science (05:24)

Physicist I. I. Rabi explains one of his earlier statements. He wrote, "Science should be the foundation for the community of Man." Rabi and others advocate international law to keep atomic materials out of private hands.

Hydrogen Bomb (02:48)

After the Soviets explode their first atomic bomb, scientists believe they must press forward with the hydrogen bomb.

Credits: I. I. Rabi: Man of the Century (01:43)

Credits: I. I. Rabi: Man of the Century

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I. I. Rabi: Man of the Century

Part of the Series : A Walk Through the 20th Century with Bill Moyers
DVD (Chaptered) Price: $149.95
DVD + 3-Year Streaming Price: $224.93
3-Year Streaming Price: $149.95



Innovation enabled the United States to take on the mantle of world leadership—most importantly, innovation in military technology. But among the great minds that drove American innovation, using science to make war sometimes led to questions, dilemmas, and even second thoughts. In this program, Bill Moyers presents a profile of I. I. Rabi, winner of the 1944 Nobel Prize in physics and an early developer of radar for use in World War II. Rabi also participated in the Manhattan Project and was present at the detonation of the first atomic bomb—an event which transformed him into an advocate for restraint in the use of nuclear power. (54 minutes)

Length: 55 minutes

Item#: BVL42069

ISBN: 978-1-62102-063-9

Copyright date: ©1984

Closed Captioned

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