Edward Teller dies
Edward Teller died on
September 9 at his home on the campus of Stanford
University in California, having had a stroke a few days
earlier, according to the Lawrence Livermore National
Laboratory. Teller was instrumental in the development of
the hydrogen bomb, having previously worked on the
Manhattan atomic-bomb project during the Second World War.
A passionate advocate of nuclear weapons, he angered many
physicists after he gave evidence at the 1954 trial of
Robert Oppenheimer, the leader of the Manhattan project,
that led to Oppenheimer losing his security clearance.
Teller was born in Budapest, Hungary, in 1908. In 1930 he
received a PhD in physics from the University of Leipzig
in Germany, and then left Nazi Germany for Denmark. After
working with Neils Bohr in Copenhagen and then living in
England, he moved to the US in 1935. He carried out
research for several years as a theoretical physicist and
then in 1943 went to work on the Manhattan project at the
Los Alamos Laboratory in New Mexico.
After the Second World War he concentrated on developing
the hydrogen bomb, which had been proposed during the war
to exploit the energy resulting from the fusion of light
atoms. In 1952, the first explosion from such a bomb took
place at the Eniwetok Island in the Pacific, and in the
same year the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, as
it is now known, was founded by Teller and Ernest
Lawrence to develop the hydrogen bomb.
Teller was director of Lawrence Livermore from 1958 to
1960, and then served as associate director for physics
until his formal retirement in 1977. He was appointed
emeritus director of the lab and senior research fellow
at the Hoover Institution, positions that he held until
his death. In the 1980s he advocated the development of a
ballistic missile defence system. Teller received
numerous awards during his career, including the
prestigious Presidential Medal of Freedom, awarded to him
this year by President Bush.
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