Jump to Content

Collection Guide
Collection Title:
Collection Number:
Get Items:
Cohen (Karl P.) papers
View entire collection guide What's This?
Search this collection
Collection Overview
Table of contents What's This?
Dr. Karl Paley Cohen was a physicist and advisor involving nuclear energy and reactor development who began his career making scientific advances in uranium production with the Manhattan Project at Columbia University in the 1940s. Working under Harold Urey, Cohen developed the now universal method of centrifugal isotope separation for enriching uranium. While the collection includes many declassified lab notebooks and journals from this time, it largely covers Cohen’s long period of service with General Electric as well as various consultancies, and includes reports, correspondence, notes, and other material related to nuclear electric power generation and its safety, economic viability, public policy and other concerns.
Karl Paley Cohen (1913-2012) was born in New York City. He studied chemistry at Columbia University from 1929 to 1936, followed by post-doctoral work in Paris (where he met his wife, Marthe-Hermance Cohen). Beginning in 1937 Cohen was research assistant to professor Harold Urey, who had earned the 1934 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his work on isotopes. As the war escalated, Urey was named director of the Manhattan Project at Columbia, and Cohen was hired as head of the project’s Theoretical Division, with the responsibility for determining processes for U-235 (uranium) isotope separation. Subsequently, Cohen was deeply involved with perfecting the gaseous diffusion and centrifuge techniques for enrichment, and uranium sources and production would be a major focus of his career.
30.42 Linear Feet (62 boxes: 50 manuscript boxes ; 1 record storage box ; 1 flat box)
While Special Collections is the owner of the physical and digital items, permission to examine collection materials is not an authorization to publish. These materials are made available for use in research, teaching, and private study. Any transmission or reproduction beyond that allowed by fair use requires permission from the owners of rights, heir(s) or assigns.
Open for research. Note that material must be requested at least 36 hours in advance of intended use. Audiovisual materials are not available in original format, and must be reformatted to a digital use copy.