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Why I didn't become an experimental physicist


Two typewriters and a mirror
Edward Teller Scientist
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Of those years, till the end of the war, I remember my father was beyond the age that he had to join. He was a lawyer, and some of the people working in his office did have to join the army. So I began to hear not so nice things about the way this glorious fighting was going on. I also remember my father's office. The really interesting things in that were two typewriters. That was the first complicated machinery that attracted me and that attraction was, of course, met by a strict denial - I shouldn't touch them. That may have something to do with the circumstance that I did not become an experimental physicist. Another story of the same kind was my father brought home one day an extremely interesting toy, that was a mirror. And as the sun came in I could reflect the sun and throw it on various parts of the ceiling and, unfortunately, also out of the window. Now, at that time, you know, we had, had quarters just behind the Supreme Court.

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, 59 seconds

Date story recorded: June 1996

Date story went live: 24 January 2008