Edward Teller – 1908-2003
Born in Hungary, the Jewish Teller immigrated to the United States in 1935 to escape a Europe increasingly under the sway of Nazi anti-Semitic ideology. Already recognized as a major physicist, Teller taught at Georgetown University (Washington, D.C.) and worked with Enrico Fermi at the University of Chicago beginning in 1941 to create the first selfsustaining nuclear chain reaction.
In 1943, he joined J. Robert Oppenheimer’s team of Manhattan Project scientists at Los Alamos, New Mexico, to create the atomic bomb. After the war, Teller advocated taking the bomb to the next step, using nuclear fission (the mechanism of the atomic bomb) to trigger a far more powerful explosive release of energy by means of nuclear fusion (hydrogen bomb). The fruit of Teller’s labors was successfully tested at Enewetak atoll in the Pacific on November 1, 1952. Teller had given birth to the age of thermonuclear weapons.