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Edward Teller’s Eccentricities and Their Effect upon Nuclear Weapons Development

Powerful Essays
From the development of the atomic bomb to the revocation of Robert Oppenheimer’s security clearance in 1954 (“Oppenheimer Security Hearing”), Edward Teller has been an important figure in the top secret scientific community. He endlessly pursued the hydrogen bomb and was instrumental in Oppenheimer’s security clearance being revoked. These actions and his complete refusal to do calculations or other “grunt work” as he saw it, caused tensions at Los Alamos along with the rest of the scientific community, and slowed the development of nuclear weapons.
Teller, after Enrico Fermi introduced the idea, relentlessly pursued the ignition of a fusion bomb by a fission explosion. He found it endlessly more fascination than the atomic bomb, which he saw the finishing of as “a problem of engineering, not physics” (“In Search”). Thus he turned his full attention to fusion. This bomb design was dubbed “The Super” (“Edward Teller”). While pursuing his obsession at Los Alamos, he often neglected his assigned work on the atomic bomb and passed it off to subordinate scientists (“In Search”). This slowed the development of the atomic bomb because it increased the workload on other scientists to figure out problems assigned to Teller and additional scientists had to be hired to compensate. It also slowed the development of the hydrogen bomb because a fission bomb is “used as the detonator” for the Super (“In Search”). The Super was not successfully tested until 1952, seven years after the first successful atomic bomb test (“Edward Teller”). This further emphasized the low priority the Super rightly held in relation to the atomic bomb. The lag time between the completion of the fission bomb and the fusion bomb was compounded by Teller’s refusal to w...

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