Herbert York

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Herbert York
Herbert F. York in 1957
Born(1921-11-24)24 November 1921
Died19 May 2009(2009-05-19) (aged 87)
Alma materUniversity of Rochester
(B.S., M.S.) (1943)
University of California, Berkeley (Ph.D) (1949)
AwardsE. O. Lawrence Award (1962)
Enrico Fermi Award (2000)
Vannevar Bush Award (2000)
Clark Kerr Medal (2000)
Scientific career
FieldsNuclear Physics
InstitutionsUniversity of California Radiation Laboratory
Manhattan Project
Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory
University of California, Berkeley
University of California San Diego
Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA)
Defense Department Research and Engineering (DDR&E)

Herbert Frank York (24 November 1921 – 19 May 2009) was an American nuclear physicist of Mohawk origin. He held numerous research and administrative positions at various United States government and educational institutes.


Herbert York was born to a family of Mohawk[2] ancestry, in Rochester, New York. He received his B.S. and M.S. degrees, both in 1943, from the University of Rochester,[3] and then went on to obtain his Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley in 1949.[4] During World War II he was a physicist at the Berkeley Radiation Laboratory and at Oak Ridge National Laboratory as part of the Manhattan Project. He was the first director of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory from 1952 to 1958. After leaving the laboratory in 1958, he held numerous positions in both government and academia, including the first Chief Scientist of the Advanced Research Projects Agency, and the first Director of Defense Research and Engineering.

York was a professor of physics at the University of California, Berkeley. He was the founding Chancellor of the University of California San Diego (1961–1964, 1970–1972). He later served as U.S. ambassador to the Comprehensive Test Ban negotiations in Geneva, Switzerland (1979–1981).[5]

York was Director Emeritus of the Institute on Global Conflict and Cooperation at UC San Diego and served as chairman of the university's Scientific and Academic Advisory Committee, which oversees activities at both Livermore and Los Alamos National Laboratories. He also served on the board of the Council for a Livable World, a nonpartisan arms control organization in Washington, D.C. York occasionally guest lectured for UC San Diego and other institutions.

Herbert York died 19 May 2009 in San Diego at age 87.[6]


  • Race to Oblivion (Simon & Schuster, 1970)[7]
  • Arms Control (Readings from Scientific American (W.H. Freeman, 1973)
  • The Advisors: Oppenheimer, Teller and the Superbomb (W.H. Freeman, 1976), a book that Hans Bethe regarded as containing a highly accurate treatment of the "Russian H-bomb" test of 1953.[8]
  • Autobiography (1978). "Race to Oblivion: A Participant's View of the Arms Race". Simon and Schuster. Retrieved 2008-10-23. {{cite web}}: External link in |last= (help)
  • Making Weapons, Talking Peace: A Physicist's Journey from Hiroshima to Geneva (Harper & Row, 1987)
  • A Shield in Space? Technology, Politics and the Strategic Defense Initiative (U.C. Press, 1988, with Sanford Lakoff)
  • Arms and the Physicist (American Physical Society, 1994)


External links[edit]

Government offices
Preceded by
Paul D. Foote
Director of Defense Research and Engineering
1958 – 1961
Succeeded by
Academic offices
Preceded by
Position created
Chancellor of the University of California San Diego
1961–1964, 1970–1972
Succeeded by
Preceded by Succeeded by