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Wizard of the Day
Teller was a Hungarian-born American theoretical physicist who is known colloquially as “the father of the hydrogen bomb,” although he claimed he did not care for the title.
He made numerous contributions to nuclear andmolecular physics, spectroscopy (in particular, the Jahn–Teller and Renner–Teller effects) and surface physics.Teller emigrated to the United States in the 1930s, and was an early member of the Manhattan Project, charged with developing the first atomic bombs. During this time he made a serious push to develop the first fusion-based weapons as well, but these were deferred until after World War II. He continued to find support from the US government and military research establishment, particularly for his advocacy for nuclear energy development, a strong nuclear arsenal, and a vigorous nuclear testing program. He was a co-founder of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) and was both its director and associate director for many years.
He was a vigorous advocate of Ronald Reagan’s Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI). Throughout his life, Teller was known both for his scientific ability and his difficult interpersonal relations and volatile personality and is considered one of the inspirations for the character Dr. Strangelove in the 1964 movie of the same name.
He was Director of LLNL, which he helped to found with Ernest O. Lawrence, from 1958 to 1960, and after that he continued as an Associate Director. He chaired the committee that founded the Space Sciences Laboratory at Berkeley. He also served concurrently as a Professor of Physics at the University of California, Berkeley.In the 1980s, Teller began a strong campaign for what was later the Strategic Defense Initiative, derided by critics as “Star Wars,” the concept of using ground and satellite-based lasers, particle beams and missiles to destroy incoming Soviet ICBMs.
Teller lobbied with government agencies – and got the approval of President Ronald Reagan – for a plan to develop a system using elaborate satellites which used atomic weapons to fire X-ray lasers at incoming missiles – as part of a broader scientific research program into defenses against nuclear weapons.Teller with Ronald Reagan in the 1980s At a 1995 meeting at LLNL in California, Teller proposed to a collective of US and Russian ex-Cold War weapons designers and space engineers the use of nuclear fusion warheads in diverting the paths of extinction event class asteroids.
Edward Teller suggested the creation of an orbital platform (i.e. military space station) for faster missile delivery. He further suggested the need for nuclear weapons more powerful than other bombs for this purpose.
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