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.


The idea of underground testing


A ban on testing
Edward Teller Scientist
Comments (0) Please sign in or register to add comments
Of course one of the results of the accident which I had described before, and the general fear connected with nuclear explosives, led to negotiations to limit testing. I had doubts about that. I felt - I still feel - that knowledge obtained by testing, if done carefully enough, should not be eliminated. But the situation in the late '50s, in the early '60s, was a strong movement toward elimination of testing and there was actual ban on testing for a two or three year period around 1960. The story about that is that this ban was eventually and rapidly broken by the Soviets who started to test again using a very big explosion - I think the biggest ever actually fired, 100 megatons, approximately five thousand times that of Hiroshima. It became quite evident that while we were not testing we were under instructions essentially to slow down or stop all progress in that direction whereas the Soviets had prepared for a test series. The result in the early 1960s was many more and more effective tests by the Soviets than by ourselves and the result was that at that time the Soviets effectively managed to catch up with American nuclear technology, explosive technology, to the extent that that was possible, or that is verifiable. In the meantime however Livermore had made a very important specific change. A new type of explosion, not in the atmosphere, but underground.

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: 4 minutes, 6 seconds

Date story recorded: June 1996

Date story went live: 29 September 2010