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Australian Biography - Sir Marcus Oliphant
Video clip synopsis – The first atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima. Sir Mark Oliphant helped to create the bomb, but even though it ended the war he can never reconcile himself to the loss of civilian life.
Year of production - 1991
Duration - 1min 35sec
Tags - biography, see all tags
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About the Video Cliptop
Sir Marcus Oliphant is an excerpt from the program Sir Marcus Oliphant (26 mins), an episode of Australian Biography Series 1 (7 × 26 mins), produced in 1991.
The Australian Biography series profiles some of the most extraordinary Australians of our time. Many have had a major impact on the nation’s cultural, political and social life. All are remarkable and inspiring people who have reached a stage in their lives where they can look back and reflect. Through revealing in-depth interviews, they share their stories – of beginnings and challenges, landmarks and turning points. In so doing, they provide us with an invaluable archival record and a unique perspective on the roads we, as a country, have travelled.
Australian Biography Series 1 is a Film Australia National Interest Program.
This Digital Resource can be used to achieve the following outcomes:
P.1 A student demonstrates an understanding of the relationships between composer, responder, text and context.
P.2 A student identifies and describes relationships among texts.
P.4 A student develops language relevant to the study of English.
P.5 A student demonstrates understanding of how audience and purpose affect the language and structure of texts.
P.7 A student describes the ways different technologies and media of production affect the language and structure of particular texts.
P.8 A student uses a variety of textual forms appropriately, for different purposes, audiences and contexts, in all modes.
P.9 A student engages with a wide range of texts to develop a considered and informed personal response.
After the war he returned to Australia, where he publicly opposed the development of atomic weapons as a misuse of atomic power.
'I suddenly realised that anybody who has a nuclear reactor can extract the plutonium from the reactor and make nuclear weapons, so that a country which has a nuclear reactor can, at any moment that it wants to, become a nuclear weapons power. And I, right from the beginning, have been terribly worried by the existence of nuclear weapons and very much against their use’.
On his return to Australia Oliphant became the first Director of the Australian National University’s Research School of Physical Sciences. After retiring from the ANU in 1967, Oliphant became the State Governor of South Australia in 1971.
Sir Marcus Oliphant retired to Canberra in 1976 and died in 2000.
- Describe the significant event Sir Marcus Oliphant is associated with and the role he played.
- Explain what he means by ‘double personality’.
- Identify the issue that he cannot reconcile.
- Describe your impressions of this scientist.
- Research Hiroshima, Nagasaki and the Atomic Bomb and find fifteen different facts for each.
- Conduct a class debate on the topic, ‘Science is too important to be left to scientists’.
- Write a letter to the editor, media article or speech presenting your point of view on the issue, ‘Science is too important to be left to scientists’.
Literacy Activity: Focus = Listening / Interpreting
- Why do we see the newsreel of Hiroshima at the beginning of the clip? (2 marks)
- What two things did he need to reconcile? (1 mark)
- Was he successful? How do we know? (2 marks)
Go to Australian Biography and select Sir Marcus Oliphant