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Newly discovered papers of S. Chandrasekhar and an ethical dilemma

Published onJun 01, 2020
Newly discovered papers of S. Chandrasekhar and an ethical dilemma

Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar (1910–1995) was one of the most important figures of 20th century astrophysics. The closing of Yerkes Observatory by the University of Chicago in 2018 led to discovery in Chandrasekhar’s old Yerkes office of several boxes of items he had left. One item was a small sealed envelope. Opening the envelope revealed an inner sealed envelope on which was written “Please do not examine contents. Thanks. S. Chandrasekhar.” This paper discusses the ethical dilemma of balancing the wishes of a deceased scientific icon versus the obvious possibility that the envelope contains materials of historical importance.

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