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Driving across Denmark on a motorbike with George Gamow


Giving a seminar to Bohr in English
Edward Teller Scientist
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I myself did a bit of work with a nice young Danish physicist by the name of Kalchar. The work concerned the rotational states of hydrogen and I have no great reason to tell you about its detail, only to tell you the story how we reported about it to Bohr. No- Bohr wanted to hear what we are doing- Let's talk about it in a seminar. We were there, Bohr wasn't. Postponed it. Postponed it again. Well, I already told you that sometimes I slept late and in one of those occasions I came to Bohr's institute early in the afternoon and there was my collaborator, Kalchar, reporting on our article. That was all right with me. But Bohr, for whatever reason, wanted me to talk. Kalchar was talking in bro- in broken German, he was a Dane. And Bohr said- Ah, here is Teller. It would be very much better if we would hear about that in English. Will Teller continue now? Well, the joke of the point is that while I did talk English, I have never before that given any talk in English. So my first talk in English was delivered on a paper with Kalchar, about orto- and para-hydrogen, in English. I survived it; so did the rest of the audience.

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, 9 seconds

Date story recorded: June 1996

Date story went live: 24 January 2008