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The Oppenheimer hearings (Part 1)


The success meaning that Livermore could continue
Edward Teller Scientist
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Los Alamos did not hear from the Pacific for several hours. They had to get everything clear, everything reclassified, look up the right kind of language in which it can be transmitted. I think it is the one case where I can claim to have beaten the official procedure, if not by years, at least by hours. Of course some of my friends now say that what I said was sexist and quite improper. There is a question, had it not worked, would I then have wired- It's a girl? Well, I better skip any further discussion of this delicate question and remain with the success not only of the explosion, but of my positive notification of my friends. We could now go ahead with work at Livermore, a part of it, the big part of it, was nuclear explosives; a part of it was the non-explosive use. The controlled use of the same reactions produce energy, not by fission of heavy nuclei, but by fusion of hydrogen-like nuclei. We worked on that, but our main point was nuclear explosives.

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, 11 seconds

Date story recorded: June 1996

Date story went live: 24 January 2008