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A brief explanation of the concept of lasers


An effort to use nuclear weapons in a peaceful way (Part 2)
Edward Teller Scientist
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I believe that this whole idea of using nuclear explosions for peaceful purposes have been stopped in a premature way. For me personally they gave occasion to some very interesting expeditions, plans to engage in geographic engineering, making harbors, making canals. One of the very interesting possibilities was a harbor in northern Alaska. Another one, to get a sea level Panama Canal, which turned out in the end not to be practical at the location of the Panama Canal because at that time- at that place the consistency of the earth did not allow to dig a canal with sufficiently steep walls and the amount of earth that had to be moved in order to make a sea level canal would have been too big. But a possibility of a sea level canal somewhere between South and North America is not quite excluded. Here we have one big field that because of fears of nuclear explosives has been eliminated, at least temporarily stopped. And I believe in the future we will find the methods where, to everybody's benefit, appropriate changes of this kind will be performed. To my mind the best counter to the fear of the atomic bomb is not the elimination but the use of these means in a manner that benefits several nations and that helps to make nat- international cooperation much more of a reality.

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, 43 seconds

Date story recorded: June 1996

Date story went live: 29 September 2010