August 26th, 2009 by Lewis Frumkes
Edward Teller, who agreed in 1988 to let me interview him after he heard the title of my book “How to Raise Your I.Q. By Eating Gifted Children,” for which of course I love him is one of the most important and controversial scientists of the 20th century. At the time of our interview he had the President’s ear and was the chief architect of the “Strategic Defense Initiative,” a network of anti-missile missiles which President Reagan believed would protect us from foreign nuclear attack. Credited with being the “father” of the “hydrogen bomb” which secures Teller’s place in history he asked me before the show not to refer to him as the “father” of anything. He also asked me what else I would ask him? When I replied that I would ask him to talk about some of the other famous scientists he had worked with, Von Neumann, Einstein, Von Karman, Szilard, Ulam, he said, “I will not talk about Ulam, Ulam is unimportant.” Stanislas Ulam, the brilliant Polish mathematician who was brought in to help Teller when the “Super” or hydrogen bomb wouldn’t work, apparently figured out the complex mathematics that would enable the bomb to ignite. It became known as the Teller/Ulam solution. Ulam had died two years before our interview and clearly Teller wished to keep him buried. When you hear Teller’s heavy Hungarian accent and slow manner of speaking in which he sets each word out one in front of the other like giant granite blocks you will understand why Terry Southern modeled his Dr. Strangelove after Teller.
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