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.


Tests to see whether the experiment worked


Scientifically testing the calculations
Edward Teller Scientist
Comments (0) Please sign in or register to add comments
Now in actual fact, for the moment all that was not taken too seriously. We went to the Pacific. We tried and we did not test the real hydrogen bomb. We did test the booster, where thermonuclear reactions enhanced to a considerable extent the fission reactions; and we tested what seemed to me very important, the calculations of Johnny Wheeler, where we did not try to get thermonuclear reactions between the usual heavy hydrogen, deuterium and deuterium, but between heavy hydrogen deuterium and ultra heavy hydrogen tritium. That was sort of a model, not very practical in the end, because it would have required a lot of the ultra heavy hydrogen which was difficult to make. But the essential point is that this relatively easy case was calculated in detail and precisely by Johnny Wheeler and his people and we were testing whether our calculations were the right thing. And for the first time in these tests in 1951, we did not just try a model and find out did it work, yes or no, we tried something more scientific: was our procedure of calculation right?

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, 5 seconds

Date story recorded: June 1996

Date story went live: 24 January 2008