Tom, I don't know how much you know about Hans Bethe. He was respected as having the most comprehensive knowledge of theoretical physics of any man alive, and was certainly the most admired by his colleagues. He passed away only a few years ago. The Washington Post noted, "Hans Bethe, a scrupulously open-minded Nobel Prize winner who was perhaps the last survivor of the scientific titans who created nuclear physics and nuclear weapons, died March 5 at his home in Ithaca, N.Y., near Cornell University. He was 98."
I, as I am sure many others did, learned a great deal from my contact with him. (He was on the Review Committee for the IFR from its inception to its termination.) He was as the quote said very open-minded, and if convinced his original position on some matter was not correct, changed his mind and said so, without hesitation or embarrassment. Once I was called upon to settle an argument to do with the IFR pyroprocess that had arisen in writing the committee report between Bethe and Manson Benedict, the founding chairman of the MIT nuclear engineering department. There was no way I was going to state my opinion directly, and choose a winner between these two very senior men who I respected so deeply. So I talked around the subject. In a matter of seconds Bethe spoke up, "Manson," he said,"I think I am prepared to concede."
My purpose in relating this is to say that in looking up the date of the Cisler medal for this short resume I came across Bethe's recommendation for the award that year, "In my opinion, this project (the Integral Fast Reactor) is the best fast reactor project that has ever been pursued."
A little more from the Post, "A participant in the postwar public debate over weapons policy, he appeared able to take strong stands without alienating his friends on the other side, and without depriving them of credit for their abilities and achievements. He was widely regarded as the conscience of the nuclear science community. When he first spoke in favor of limits on bomb testing, his impeccable reputation gave immediate credibility to that position."
There was no one whose opinion was held in higher regard at the top of the world's nuclear science community than Hans Bethe, and his often stated opinion over the ten years of the IFR may help give heart to those who may agree with him now.