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Questions of using the bomb


The end of the war in Europe but not in the Pacific
Edward Teller Scientist
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In the meantime the war proceeded and the war ended in Europe. Remember, in the spring of 1945, the Nazis were finally defeated, Hitler committed suicide and there was peace. But not in the Pacific. There the fighting was continuing. Around that time, end of June 1945, I got a very interesting letter from my good friend, Szilárd, the very man who got the enterprise started in the United States. Now he said- The dangers of Nazi atomic bombs are gone. We are approaching the ability to make atomic bombs. What shall we do? Is it necessary to use them? Shall we use them? Would it be better perhaps first to demonstrate? A number of us in Chicago are submitting a request that a bomb should not be used against the Japanese without prior demonstration. Would you collect signatures for that proposal in Los Alamos?

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, 13 seconds

Date story recorded: June 1996

Date story went live: 24 January 2008