a story lives forever
Sign in
Form submission failed!

Stay signed in

Recover your password?
Form submission failed!

Web of Stories Ltd would like to keep you informed about our products and services.

Please tick here if you would like us to keep you informed about our products and services.

I have read and accepted the Terms & Conditions.

Please note: Your email and any private information provided at registration will not be passed on to other individuals or organisations without your specific approval.

Video URL

You must be registered to use this feature. Sign in or register.


Worries as John von Neumann confirms Ulam's calculations


Ulam's calculations showed faults in our approach to the Hydrogen bomb
Edward Teller Scientist
Comments (0) Please sign in or register to add comments

What happened was that then, in early 1950, we had been planning a number of tests for the next year, for the spring of 1951. Everybody agreed that for that test series we should gather as much information as ever possible, and I, having planned to go back to Chicago in the summer of 1950, I now made up my mind. There was a possibility of the hydrogen bomb. I was at least going to stay another year. We planned, we calculated, and among the calculations a job done by one of my colleagues, Stan Ulam, was particularly important. There had been calculations about the planned hydrogen bomb which were, I have to admit, superficial. Ulam and his collaborators did not have a good a computing machine available, they did things by hand, and Ulam's collaborators did a very good job and found difficulties. In fact in their formulation which I don't think was really quite as definite as it should have been. But in their formulation our plans just wouldn't work.

The late Hungarian-American physicist Edward Teller helped to develop the atomic bomb and provided the theoretical framework for the hydrogen bomb. During his long and sometimes controversial career he was a staunch advocate of nuclear power and also of a strong defence policy, calling for the development of advanced thermonuclear weapons.

Listeners: John H. Nuckolls

John H. Nuckolls was Director of the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory from 1988 to 1994. He joined the Laboratory in 1955, 3 years after its establishment, with a masters degree in physics from Columbia. He rose to become the Laboratory's Associate Director for Physics before his appointment as Director in 1988.

Nuckolls, a laser fusion and nuclear weapons physicist, helped pioneer the use of computers to understand and simulate physics phenomena at extremes of temperature, density and short time scales. He is internationally recognised for his work in the development and control of nuclear explosions and as a pioneer in the development of laser fusion.

Duration: 2 minutes, 18 seconds

Date story recorded: June 1996

Date story went live: 24 January 2008