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Sir Marcus Oliphant

Sir Marcus Oliphant

Birth and Nationality

Born in Adelaide, South Australia on 8 October 1901, Sir Marcus Oliphant was an Australian physicist and humanitarian who played a huge role in the development of the first atomic bomb. He may have a relevant role in the discovery of the atomic bomb, but it did not please him that the discovery was used to destroy Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Due to his reaction, he was tagged as a “peacenik”, a person that questions morality in employing nuclear weapons.


Sir Marcus Oliphant finished his studies in the University of Adelaide in 1922. He also went to England’s University of Cambridge's Cavendish Laboratory where he studied under Sir Ernest Rutherford. His extensive research on mercury granted him an 1851 Exhibition Scholarship in 1927.

Career and Awards

His works and discoveries were recognized by various award-giving bodies and civic groups, from 1937’s election to Fellow of the Royal Society to 1977’s appointment to Companion of the Order of Australia. He was awarded Hughes Medal by the Royal Society, Silvanius Thomson Medal by the Institute of Radiology, and Faraday Medal by the Institution of Engineers. After his retirement from science, he was appointed as governor in South Australia

Spouse and Children

Rosa Wilbraham, also a native of Adelaide, became the wife of Sir Marcus Oliphant. He and Rosa met when they were teenagers, and it ended in marriage. The couple was blessed with two children named Vivian and Michael.


Sir Marcus Oliphant died in Canberra on the 14th July 2000 at the age of 98.

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Immigration Info

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