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University and the Eötvös prizes


Getting together with Szilárd, von Neumann and Wigner
Edward Teller Scientist
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Actually, the high school, the gymnasium that I attended, had been founded by the Secretary of Education, whom I, of course, never have met. His son, I hadn't met him at that time either, Theodore von Karman, became a very famous aerodynamicist. Another physicist about whom I have to tell you much more who studied in the gymnasium was Leó Szilárd, who in a very real bit- way has to be blamed for the atomic bomb, if anybody has to be blamed for it. There were, at that period, a couple of other very outstanding Hungarian scientists who did not go into that school: John von Neumann and Eugene Wigner. But my father, who, of course, knew very well my interests, did get me together, in my last year in high school, with these three: Leó Szilárd, Johnny von Neumann and Eugene Wigner. Their influence on me was very simple. In a way it was the same as the influence that Klug had on me and it was this: I found that many of the grown up people complained how hard they had to work. The scientists or mathematicians never complained. They quite obviously liked to work more than to do anything else. And that I clearly noticed at a very early age.

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, 50 seconds

Date story recorded: June 1996

Date story went live: 24 January 2008