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Writing a paper with Fermi on particles occurring in cosmic rays


Maria Mayer winning the Nobel Prize
Edward Teller Scientist
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I like to think about it, in the way what I did was not terribly relevant. Maria Mayer and I tried to explain the abundance of elements and out of these discussions Maria Mayer's ideas of the magic numbers took its origin. She noticed that certain numbers of neutrons, or certain numbers of protons in nuclei were quite abundant and from that she deduced that these particles, contrary to what, what most people, including Bohr believed, these particles moved in a relatively smooth potential, making up closed shells. It was development I wouldn't believe for some time. I was too much of a disciple of Bohr. She almost got mad with me, for not believing me and it turned out, she was 100% right and got the Nobel Prize, which was a very nice thing to happen.

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, 49 seconds

Date story recorded: June 1996

Date story went live: 24 January 2008