Samuel T. Cohen
Samuel Cohen
Historical Figure
Nationality: United States
Date of Birth: 1921
Date of Death: 2010
Cause of Death: Stomach cancer
Religion: Judaism
Occupation: Physicist
Military Branch: United States Army (World War II)
Turtledove Appearances:
Joe Steele
POD: 1878;
Relevant POD: July, 1932
Novel or Story?: Novel
Type of Appearance: Contemporary reference
Samuel Theodore Cohen (January 25, 1921 – November 28, 2010) was an American physicist who invented the W70 warhead and is therefore generally credited as the father of the neutron bomb.

Cohen's parents were Austrian Jews who emigrated from London, England. He was born on January 25, 1921, in Brooklyn and raised in New York City. He studied math and physics at UCLA before joining the Army after Pearl Harbor. In 1944 he worked on the Manhattan Project in the efficiency group and calculated how neutrons behaved in Fat Man, the atomic bomb that was later detonated over Nagasaki, Japan. After the war he studied for his Ph.D. at Berkeley before dropping out to join the RAND Corporation. At RAND Corporation in 1950, his work on the intensity of fallout radiation first became public when his calculations were included as a special appendix in Samuel Glasstone's book The Effects of Atomic Weapons.

Samuel T. Cohen in Joe SteeleEdit

Samuel T. Cohen Los Alamos ID

Wrecker ID Photograph

In the late 1930s, Samuel T. Cohen engaged in subversive behavior and so was encamped as a wrecker by the GBI. When Captain Hyman Rickover was assigned the project to develop an atomic bomb, he received permission to use Cohen and other encamped physicists within a special encampment to work on the bomb.[1] The project proved successful, so Cohen and the others earned their freedom.[2]

Literary CommentEdit

Cohen is not referenced in the short story. His function is filled there by George Kistiakowsky.


  1. Joe Steele, pgs. 319-320, HC.
  2. Ibid, pg. 393.