Edward Teller Jack Carter, Eli Cough, Rosie Henry, Lisa LeBlanc
He was born into a Jewish family in Budapest, Hungary on January 15, 1908
He was a mathematical prodigy
He went to Germany in 1926 as a young student and began studying Chemical Engineering
He transferred to university of Munich in 1928 to study quantum mechanics
He graduated in chemical engineering at the University of Karlsruhe
Edward’s Schooling Cont.
He went to the University of Leipzig and received his doctorate in physics in 1930
He took his first job as a research consultant at the University of Gottingen
Early Career Life
He published a paper on the “Hydrogen Molecular Ion”
Adolf Hitler came to power so Teller emigrate to Denmark in 1934, here he joined the Institution of Theoretical Physics
At the Institution of Theoretical Physics he met Nick Bohr who lead a secret of young scientist attempting to unlock the atom
En route to America At Bohr’s institute, Teller met physicist George Gamow George Gamow and Teller went different ways, Teller went to work at the University of London and Gamow went to work at George Washington University Gamow invited Teller to join him in Washington D.C., Teller accepted the invitation and went to the United States in 1935, he became a U.S. citizen in 1941
In Washington Teller worked with Gamow they created the Gamow-Teller rules for classifying subatomic particle behavior in radioactive decay They also attempted to apply the atomic phenomena to astrophysics He thought he was going to have a quiet academic life but the events in Europe interfered
Szilard: always thought about using nuclear energy, knew how when they discovered how to split the atom
Teller drove Szilard to Einstein’s summer house to convince him to sign a letter written to Roosevelt to do atomic bomb research (before WW2). Einstein signed it.
Roosevelt called together a meeting and asked teller to bring Fermi, he refused to come but told teller to tell the group to make a nuclear reactor.
Szilard and Fermi didn’t get along, Teller was friends with both, he was there since the start in 1939
Working On the Bomb
Invited in 1942 to be part of Oppenheimer’s summer planning seminar at UC Berkeley for the origins of the Manhattan project
Arrived two months late to Chicago Metallurgical lab, where he participated in the theoretical division
Moved to Los Alamos in 1943
While Teller was in Los Alamos, Szilard was in Chicago and asked Teller to start a petition to just demonstrate the bomb not drop it
Oppenheimer refused Teller’s request of the petition
Working on the Bomb
First assignment was to brief incoming scientists
Constantly brought up discussion of a fusion weapon that was suggested to him by Fermi
Discovered the method of implosion; at high pressure a less critical mass was needed, therefore pre-detonation problems with plutonium were solved
Oppenheimer immediately set out work on this implosion bomb
Working on the Bomb
From 1943-1944 worked on hydrodynamics of implosion and super group theory
From 1944-1946 worked on only General and Super group theory
Because Teller constantly brought up the possibility of a “super” bomb through fusion that they set up a separate division for him to focus on
Working on the Bomb
Bethe remembers that "he declined to take charge of the group which would perform the detailed calculation on the implosion and since the theoretical division was very shorthanded it was necessary to bring in new scientists to do the work that Teller declined to do.”
Teller took offense to Bethe asking him to work on “impossible equations”, beginning of the end of their friendship
Clashed with many scientists, left los Alamos in 1946 and went to university of Chicago
The First Atomic Bomb Test http://www.achievement.org/autodoc/page/tel0int-1
A summary of how the scientist felt about the decision to use the bomb(s) on Japan After the bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, Teller admits to having two immediate regrets: a “weak” regret and a “strong regret.”
Teller received a letter in July 1945 from fellow countryman Leo Szilard during Teller’s time at Los Alamos regarding the moral implications of using an atomic bomb on Japan.
Szilard requested that Teller sign and pass on a petition.
Teller consulted Oppenheimer, who turned down the request.
Teller feels not signing or circulating Szilard’s petition as a weak regret because, although he regrets allowing Oppenheimer to persuade him, Szilard never personally asked for Teller’s opinion on the matter.
“It may very well be that the decision of the President whether or not to use atomic bombs in the war against Japan will largely be based on considerations of expediency. On the basis of expediency, many arguments could be put forward both for and against our use of atomic bombs against Japan. Such arguments could be considered only within the framework of a thorough analysis of the situation which will face the United States after this war and it was felt that no useful purpose would be served by considering arguments of expediency in a short petition.”-Leo Szilard July 1945
Several weeks before receiving Szilard’s letter, Teller had conversations with Enrico Fermi regarding the possible demonstration of the bomb.
Teller’s regret was that he did not give more thought to this problem.
Looking back, Teller agrees “a demonstration of an atomic bomb over Tokyo Bay, where the emperor and the Japanese people would have seen it but the danger would have been minimal” would have sufficed, if the bomb was to work. “If it does not go off, then we have done nothing.”
Even to this day Teller does not regret the USE of the atomic bomb.
Despite his two regrets, he felt and still feels, that there was no acceptable alternative to direct military use.
Science and Politics as Separate
Teller felt scientists and politics were to be separate.
The scientists are responsible for “the effectiveness of the tools and for the understanding of the tools,” but “not for the use of these tools.”
In sum, “knowledge is good and must be separate from the application of knowledge.”
Father of the Hydrogen Bomb “I do not want the hydrogen bomb because it would kill more people. I wanted the hydrogen bomb because it was new. It was something we did not know, but could know. I am afraid of ignorance”. Teller was strongly anti communist, knew if U.S. didn’t pursue a fusion bomb the Soviets would. video
The Hydrogen Bomb Developed in 1951 by Teller and Stainslaw Ulam Teller’s original designs for thermonuclear bomb wouldn’t work, Ulam came up with a design that would. Teller-Ulam design: different parts of the weapon are chained together in steps, detonation of each step provides energy to ignite the next.
Hydrogen bomb cont. Teller’s design worked beginning with an implosion fission bomb as the trigger. This was referred to as the “primary” section of the hydrogen bomb. This implosion fission bomb is the same as the implosion design used in the atomic bomb “Fat Man.”
Hydrogen bomb cont. After the implosion bomb goes off, energy released in the form of X-rays compresses cylinder of “secondary” section of the hydrogen bomb. This secondary section containing a U-238 shield and tamper around Lithium deuterate and a plutonium rod, becomes compressed. The compression of the secondary by X-rays coming from the fission reaction is called radiation implosion. Because of the shape of the plutonium rod, it is not a critical mass until it is compressed.
Hydrogen bomb cont. The compressed plutonium rod undergoes fission, further heating the compressed lithium deuterate to a temperature high enough to induce fusion. The fission of the plutonium rod supplies the neutrons that react with the lithium to create tritum for fusion. The tritum-deuterium (and also deuterium-deuterium) atoms collide and combine--the process called fusion--forming helium, heat, and radiation. All of this happens in 600 billionths of a second and the result is an explosion 700 times greater than the Little Boy explosion.
Diagram of Hydrogen Bomb Process
Oppenheimer Controversy Teller was called as a witness in Oppenheimer’s security clearance hearing When asked if Teller believed Oppenheimer to be a security risk, he responded: “I have seen Dr. Oppenheimer act in a way which for me was exceedingly hard to understand. I thoroughly disagreed with him in numerous issues and his actions frankly appeared to me confused and complicated. To this extent I feel I would like to see the vital interests of this country in hands which I understand better, and therefore trust more”
Oppenheimer Controversy cont. Oppenheimer’s security clearance was revoked Teller’s former colleagues disagreed with his testimony and he became an outcast among his fellow scientists Teller then began to work with government and military on the advancement of American technological supremacy
Strategic Defense Initiative Led a strong campaign for “Star Wars”, traveling to different government agencies and countries It was a system of satellites that used atomic weapons to fire lasers at incoming missiles Traveled to Israel, invited them to join SDI, along with Japan, West Germany, Great Britain, Italy, and France
Further work with Nuclear Weapons It was said that “[Teller] deserves much of the credit (or blame)…for the failure of the 1963 Nuclear Test Ban Treaty”. Teller strongly believed in continuing nuclear research http://www.achievement.org/autodoc/page/tel0int-5
Further work cont. Director of the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, where he continued to work on nuclear development ( a friendly rival to the lab at Los Alamos) Professor of Physics at UC Berkeley Operation Plowshare: non military use of explosives, such as creating harbors
Edward died at his home on the Campus of Stanford University at the age of 95
The date of his death was September 9, 2003.
Bibliography “Edward Teller (1908-2003)” atomicarchive.com. 2011. 1 April 2011 http://www.atomicarchive.com/Bios/Teller.shtmlhttp://www.atomicarchive.com/Bios/Teller.shtml Edward Teller : giant of the golden age of physics : a biography / by Stanley A. Blumberg and Louis G. Panos.Blumberg, Stanley A.New York : Scribner's, c1990. Freudenrich, Craig, and John Fieller. "HowStuffWorks "Fusion Bombs"" Howstuffworks "Science" Web. 04 Apr. 2011. http://science.howstuffworks.com/nuclear-bomb6.htm . Memoirs : a twentieth-century journey in science and politics / Edward Teller, with Judith L. Shoolery.Teller, Edward, 1908-2003.Cambridge, Mass. : Perseus Pub., c2001. Palevsky, Mary. Atomic Fragments: a Daughter's Questions. Berkeley, CA: University of California, 2000. Print. “Statesmen of Science” Academy of Achievement. 28 September 2010. 2 April 2011 http://www.achievement.org/autodoc/page/tel0int-1 "Teller-Ulam Design." Wikipedia.com. 2 Apr. 2011. Web. 4 Apr. 2011.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Teller%E2%80%93Ulam_design.