Edward Teller Fact 1: Edward Teller was born on January 15th 1908 and during the 20th century period in history when great strides were being made in technology, medicine and aviation. There were also world changing events happening including the First World War, the Second World War, the Korean War, the Vietnam War and the Cold War.
Edward Teller Fact 2: As a young man he was involved in an accident with a streetcar which resulted in the loss of his foot and he would have to wear a prosthetic foot which left him with a pronounced limp.
Edward Teller Fact 3: During his early years he made several friends that he would have all his life. Werner Heisenberg, George Gamow, a Russian physicist and Lev Landau, George Placzek who was a Czech physicist as well as Enrico Fermi who Teller met in Rome.
Edward Teller Fact 4: Having spent two years studying at the University of Gottingen, in 1933 with the aid of the International Rescue Committee, which had been set up by Albert Einstein to assist displaced people and people escaping persecution, Teller briefly stayed in England before moving to Copenhagen where he worked for a year with Niels Bohr.
Edward Teller Fact 5: In 1934 Edward Teller married his friend's sister, Augusta Maria “Mici” Harkanyi and the following year he was invited to attend George Washington University to become their Professor Physics.
Edward Teller Fact 6: By 1942 Robert Oppenheimer invited Teller to attend the summer seminar in Berkeley at the University of California where the Manhattan Project was conceived.
Edward Teller Fact 7: The Manhattan Project was the post war Allied joint effort development of nuclear weapons.
Edward Teller Fact 8: Teller had only weeks previously been discussing atomic warfare with Enrico Fermi and Fermi made an off the cuff comment about a weapon founded on nuclear fission being the trigger for a much larger nuclear fusion reaction.
Edward Teller Fact 9: Although Teller felt that idea was unworkable, the idea nevertheless took root and during the Berkeley session he brought up the possibility of the using a fusion rather than fission weapon.
Edward Teller Fact 10: Arthur Compton would be the lead physicist in the American project to develop an atomic bomb. Enrico also became a member of team with Teller being left behind initially, but in 1943, as the Los Alamos laboratory was completed and ready for use under Oppenheimer’s supervision, Teller was invited to join the team.
Edward Teller Fact 11: Even though Edward Teller became part of the Los Alamos laboratory Theoretical Physics division during the second World War and as much as he tried to gain interest in his idea of a fusion weapon, the fission weapon was providing enough difficulty that his idea was pushed aside. It didn’t help that he was passed over for the position of director for the theoretical department he also managed to alienate other members of the team by not cooperating with the implosion mechanism.Edward Teller Fact 17: After the outcome of the Oppenheimer and the Atomic Energy Commission Teller found himself increasingly ostracized by many in the scientific community. However he was still highly thought of in the military and government science circles.
Edward Teller Fact 12: As a result of his actions, more scientists were needed and Klaus Fuchs would eventually be found out as a Soviet spy.
Edward Teller Fact 13: After the success of the first test explosion called Trinity, and as one of the few that did not follow instructions to lay on the floor with their backs turned, instead Teller, wearing his protective eye wear, watched as the bomb exploded remarking that it “was as if I had pulled open the curtain in a dark room and broad daylight streamed in.”
Edward Teller Fact 14: A fellow scientist Leo Szilard by way of a petition suggested it would be better to demonstrate to Japan the devastation of the new weapon before actually using it. Teller sought advice from Oppenheimer o what the correct response should be. In answer Oppenheimer suggested that the politicians should be ones to decide whether or not to use the weapon. It would be many years later that Teller found out that Oppenheimer was actually on a small committee that decided the bombs needed to be used. His relationship thereafter began to deteriorate.
Edward Teller Fact 15: By 1946 Teller was back at the University of Chicago having left Los Alamos and took a position as a professor but by 1950 he would return to take part in the development of a hydrogen bomb.
Edward Teller Fact 16: Teller would be asked by the Atomic Energy Commission whether Oppenheimer should be granted security clearance. In so much as Teller expressed his deepest feeling that Oppenheimer was a true patriot and loyal to the United States he did however steer the Commission towards withholding security clearance for Oppenheimer and thus in the long run destroyed his career. Although he at no time suggested that Oppenheimer was nothing if not a very able man, it was simply to some of his decision choices Teller had found confusing and unexplainable.
Edward Teller Fact 18: It was in 1857 that Teller became one of the first scientists to be outspoken about the dangers of global warming and the burning of fossil fuels and gave warnings that the huge quantity of carbon based fuel was drastically increasing the levels of carbon dioxide concentrated in the atmosphere.
Edward Teller Fact 19: Teller continued to work throughout the remainder of his life.
Edward Teller Fact 20: On September 9th 2003 Edward Teller died in his home in Stanford, California, USA.
Influence and Legacy: Edward Teller is described as one of the most influential scientists of the 20th century, he was partially responsible for the creation of the nuclear bomb and the devastation it brought Japan. However, his philosophy was that it was a necessary evil, the more countries that had it the less likely it was to be used.
Short Facts about Edward Teller for Kids:
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