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Ideas for the hydrogen bomb


Writing a paper with Fermi on particles occurring in cosmic rays
Edward Teller Scientist
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I also worked with Fermi on particles occurring in cosmic rays, origin of cosmic rays, of very particular kinds of cosmic rays that we discussed. All of this was a part of the main work at that time and I want to tell you one personal experience. I had a nice paper published with Fermi and I remember how it came about. We discussed the substance of it and came to an agreement, but then it had to be written, and it was written actually in a way in which perhaps few if any other papers were ever written. We had a very nice secretary who made me acquainted with travel plans to put in my pocket if I wished to be led when I was away from home, Mrs Macmillan. Fermi hardly ever used a secretary. When we had to use- write the paper, Fermi didn't write it, I didn't write, Mrs Macmillan wrote it. We brought her in and alternate parts were dictated to her by Fermi and by me. Needless to say what I talked was an American modality of Hungarian and what Fermi was talking was practically Italian but Mrs Macmillan managed to put down, all down in English, so that it was publishable.

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, 19 seconds

Date story recorded: June 1996

Date story went live: 24 January 2008