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The BET theory


Going to the USA
Edward Teller Scientist
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I liked Johnny von Neumann and Wigner better, but I somehow liked the idea of a professorship, liked the idea to work with a man who needed me, because my mathematics was stronger than his. That I certainly could not have said in connection with Wigner and most certainly I could not have said it in connection with Johnny von Neumann, whose mathematics was clearly better than anybody's mathematics, at least at his time. That is how I got to the United States, in 1935. And how I started to teach quantum mechanics, to continue the same kind of work I did in Göttingen, I did in Copenhagen, I did in London. Quantum mehanics- mechanics, correspondence principle, what is new in physics, which at that time in the United States was less well understood than it was in Europe. And those physics exercises, those agreeable afternoon lectures that I gave for a few years at the George Washington University are probably the best time of my life.

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, 2 seconds

Date story recorded: June 1996

Date story went live: 24 January 2008