Edward Teller is truly an amazing man. He is most famous for the
Hydrogen bomb, launching the original Manhattan Project with Leo Szilard
and Albert Einstein, and founding Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. He
has received too many awards to list, and 23 honorary degrees since his Ph.D.
in physics from the University of Leipzig, in Science, Law, Philosophy, and
other branches of humanities from prestigious universities around the world.
I, along with a few other undergraduate and graduate students at the
University of California, Berkeley had a chance to meet him at Lawrence
Livermore National Laboratory. At 92, his body is feeble but his intellect is
great. He was pushed into the room on a wheel chair, and it seemed as if he
were dozing. Someone asked a question, and he sat still for what seemed like an
age. Suddenly he answered so perfectly it seemed as if he had prepared a
speech. Later I read that as a child he began to talk late, but when he did,
he spoke in complete sentences - that seemed characteristic of him. Everything
we asked, he had a specific comprehensive answer to. He had so much to say to us
- not on the hydrogen bomb, but on history, on how to improve the American
education system, on what the future might be like.
Even today Teller is still well-alive in the field. He retired from Lawrence Livermore in 1975 and is now Director
Emeritus at LLNL and senior research
fellow at Stanford University. At the end of our meeting he proposed to us a
new idea for a safe underground nuclear fusion reactor, a topic that may now
be one of the student's thesis.
Editor's note: Edward Teller died in Stanford on 9 September 2003.