User:Inquisitor/Edward Teller

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Edward Teller (1908-2003) was a Hungarian-American theoretical physicist commonly known as the "father of the hydrogen bomb". Along with Robert Oppenheimer, Edward Teller was a key member of the Manhattan Project which resulted in the production the first atomic bomb.


Though born to a fairly well-off Jewish family in Hungary, Teller acquired the bulk of his education in Weimar-era Germany. After completing a doctoral thesis on the hydrogen molecular ion, he earned a PhD in physical chemistry in 1930. In 1935 he accepted a teaching position at George Washington University and relocated to the United States.

Mad scientist[edit]

Conspiracy theories[edit]


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Carl Sagan and Edward Teller were bitter opponents in national security debates about issues such as “Star Wars” and nuclear test bans, but ironically they agreed on defending the Earth against asteroids — an agreement that neither, however, was ready to admit in public. They drew very different conclusions from the impact threat — Sagan saw it is a justification for space exploration, Teller as a reason to build bigger nuclear bombs.

At the U.S. government hearings held in 1954 to determine whether Oppenheimer was a security risk, Teller’s testimony was decidedly unsympathetic to his former chief. “I would feel personally more secure,” he told the inquiry board, “if public matters would rest in other hands.” After the hearings’ end, Oppenheimer’s security clearance was revoked, and his career as a science administrator was at an end. Although Teller’s testimony was by no means the decisive factor in this outcome, many prominent American nuclear physicists never forgave him for what they viewed as his betrayal of Oppenheimer.

The model for the title character of Stanley Kubrick's satirical film Dr. Strangelove, Teller became in the last half of his life the leading proponent of major weapons systems, the guiding inspiration for the Strategic Defense Initiative ("Star Wars") and an enthusiastic supporter of nuclear energy. He became arguably the most influential scientist of the Reagan Administration.

It turns out that the conspiracy story most often told about the Bohemians is actually true: That the Manhattan Project was planned there, to develop the first atomic weapons. The Bohemian Grove property is vacant 49 weeks out of the year, and when it is, it's available for private use by members. In September of 1942, Dr. Edward Teller, a club member, reserved the grove and held his meeting there. No other Bohemian Club members were present. So although it's factually true that the Manhattan Project was planned at the Bohemian Grove, the obvious implication that it was a Bohemian Club project planned by Bohemian Club members is patently false.

The debate over Teller’s legacy continues. His later years were characterized by a pursuit of other uses for nuclear weapons. He had pushed the US to launch Plowshare, a project that aimed to build canals and harbors using nuclear weapons, and urged President Reagan to launch the controversial Strategic Defense Initiative, also known as “Star Wars,” that would have launched nuclear-powered laser weapons into orbit.

Teller would dip into other areas of outlandish science—like geoengineering, in order to “give the earth a thermostat,” he said—but he also dreamed of other uses for nuclear too: he wanted to rocket bombs into the Moon for science, fly to Mars on nuclear engines, and use fusion, not fission, to create a limitless supply of nuclear energy