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A lack of enthusiasm for Sommerfeld


The inspiration of Herman Mark
Edward Teller Scientist
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But before going on, I want to tell you something about this wonderful man, Herman Mark, who is responsible for my becoming a physicist. He really was only a visiting professor. His main job was in the neighborhood, with what was called the Farben I.G, the ca- Interessen Gemeinschaft, the joint interest of chemists in the very remunerative practice of making coloring substances - Farben. He lectured as a side issue. When Hitler came a few years later he got fired, got a professorship in Vienna but wasn't left there alone because a few years later Austria became a part of Germany and poor Mark was again exposed to Hitler. He did not have an offer from abroad, he had some money. He wanted to ta- take it along, to start a new life in the United States. You couldn't take money out of Germany. As a professor, it was possible to- for him to buy platinum without being particularly noticed. That he did. He put that platinum into the pockets of heavy coats so that the weight difference should not be noticed. Then, when they were at a border leaving in the direction of Switzerland, I believe, the Hitlerite guards took a good and partly destructive look even at the coats. Fortunately, the Mark treasures were not discovered. Herman Mark came to the United States with his family, including a son who had not existed when Herman was teaching me. Hans Mark, an important figure in the United States, well, he and I got together years later. At any rate, as far as I am concerned, I had now the permission to study physics and one of the most famous professors who counted Pauli and Heisenberg and other famous students among his disciples was Sommerfeld, in Munich. So I decided to go there.

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, 41 seconds

Date story recorded: June 1996

Date story went live: 24 January 2008