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Checking the explosions on a seismograph (Part 2)


Checking the explosions on a seismograph (Part 1)
Edward Teller Scientist
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There is one event, early in the history of Livermore. You know, the arguments that led to the establishment of Livermore took a little longer than what I, I seem to have described here. We did not get going until the summer of 1952 and not much later the first plans on a real hydrogen bomb were to be tested. The details had been actually worked out by Johnny Wheeler's group, not in Los Alamos, but back in a small temporary group in Princeton, an excellent piece of work. The test was to occur in the Pacific. I was kindly invited to attend, but Livermore was just getting going, I did not feel I could leave for even a couple of weeks. It is one of my memories that I like to tell about. I could not be at the test, but one of my very excellent friends, Dave Giggs, a man who knew everything about earthquakes, made calculations. The planned big explosion above ground would push the surface down, would generate a relatively mild earthquake wave. However, with any decent apparatus, this mild wave could be sensed around the world. So I, not being able to go to the Pacific, went to a seismograph in Berkeley. At the right time I sat before it and watched a little green spot. If there was an earthquake wave, that spot would dance, would move. But somehow things did not 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: 3 minutes, 8 seconds

Date story recorded: June 1996

Date story went live: 24 January 2008