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Talking to General Groves about an explosion


Questions of secrecy
Edward Teller Scientist
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One of the few physicists who were there was a very well known man, Tolman, and we came under serious attack: Did we give away too much? One of the points was, did not- did we not have to- did we have to tell on what element we were working? Wouldn't it be sufficient if we would say that Z=92? Well it did not take very long for me to explain that if I said the one thing I have said the other thing. But the amusing point about all of this was that in our being questioned a lot had been disclosed about the reactors that worked in Hanford and after the meeting when I took Maria to the railroad station she said- Well I really learned a great deal, very interesting what was said about reactors. Secrecy on occasion seemed to work against itself.

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: 1 minute, 48 seconds

Date story recorded: June 1996

Date story went live: 24 January 2008