EDWARD TELLER (1908-2003)

1952 – USA

photo of EDWARD TELLER ©


In 1950 the H-Bomb project was begun in earnest, with Teller in a key role. Collaborative work between Teller and Stanislaw Marcin Ulam (1906-86) resulted in a thermonuclear device being ready by late 1951, with a public testing in 1952. This is a hydrogen-fusion device, as opposed to the atomic nuclear bomb. The latter works by essentially splitting the nucleus of the heavy, uranium atom; the former as an offshoot of forcing the conversion of hydrogen to helium. It was ENRICO FERMI (1901-54) who pointed out the possibility that an atomic explosion could cause enough heat and pressure to force a thermonuclear reaction of a hydrogen isotope, unleashing an even greater force.

Scientific theory had hinted at this possibility ever since it was realised that a helium atom was slightly lighter than it should be given its component parts. An application of Einstein’s E=mc2 equation explained that the mass ‘lost’ in the fusion was being converted into huge amounts of energy, the basis upon which the Sun works, fusing hydrogen atoms into helium under great temperature and pressure and giving off the difference as radiation.

Teller testified against ROBERT OPPENHEIMER during the investigation of alleged ‘disloyalty’.

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3 thoughts on “EDWARD TELLER (1908-2003)

  1. Pingback: FRED LAWRENCE WHIPPLE (1906-2004) | A History of Science

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