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Quote: Maud Ray Kent

Paraphrasing from Macrae’s biography of J. von Neumann:

In 1940 the Germans captured Denmark plus Niels Bohr. A cable arrived in Britain from Otto Frisch’s aunt in Sweden saying, “Met Niels and [wife] Margarethe recently. Both well but unhappy about events. Please inform Cockroft [British nuclear scientist] and Maud Ray Kent”.

Who or what was “Maud Ray Kent”? The British decided it was an anagram for “radyum taken” and thus gave warning that the Germans were moving fast to develop an A-bomb. Perhaps that was the reason the Nazis had occupied Bohr’s Copenhagen, and were capturing Norway and its heavy water too? Someone suggested that Maud might actually stand for “Military Application: Uranium Disintegration”. The British nuclear program commenced under the name “MAUD Committee”, as a tribute to the brilliant anagram.

Down in her home in Kent, Miss Maud Ray, the English governess to Bohr’s children, remained uncontacted because nobody had heard of her.

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