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Nuclear Physicist

Honorary Doctor of Science



Background information is from a University archive file which includedan introduction of Dr. Teller as commencement speaker for the 1964 commencement at the University of Detroit. Dr. Edward Teller is a native of Hungary who in 1941 became a citizen of the United States. Until 1939 he was absorbed by the pursuits of the theoretical physicist, attempting to understand the behavior of molecules, atoms, and nuclei. The discovery of the fission process and the menace of Nazi Germany drew him to work on atomic explosives. Unlike many of the nuclear physicists who helped develop the world's first atomic bomb, Dr. Teller continued to work on nuclear weapons after Hiroshima and the end of World War II. He did this in the firm belief that there were many unexplored applications of nuclear energy and because he felt that the United States would need advanced nuclear weapons to oppose successfully future dangers. Dr. Teller's current research is concerned chiefly with the peaceful applications of nuclear energy. He has returned to academic life as Professor-at-large of Physics at the University of California and as Chairman of the newly formed department of Applied Science in Davis and Livermore. His purpose is to help insure national leadership in science and technology by providing talented students with the opportunity to develop true intellectual maturity in an atmosphere whereby boundaries between the several disciplines are subordinated, and where there may be full integration of engineering with mathematics, physics, and chemistry. Born in Budapest in 1908, Dr. Teller received the degree of Doctor of Philosophy from the University of Leipzig in 1930. After research and teaching in Gottingen, Copenhagen, and London in the early 1930's, he came to this country and was professor of physics at the George Washington University, Washington, D.C. from 1935-1941. He is the author of numerous research reports, scientific articles and books, including The Structure of Matter, Our Nuclear Future, The Legacy of Heroshima (1962). Dr. Teller states (Aug 15, 1962 in L.A.Times) that "there's no doubt about it that the best scientists as of this moment are not in this room, nor in the United States, but in Moscow." In his popular book, the Legacy of Hiroshima, however, he spoke somewhat more reassuringly: and I would like to offer two brief quotes: (pp. 161-2) "...There... is no such thing as an average child or average individual. In his own way in some endeavor every one of us can and should be excellent. Excellence is a great and deep need of every human soul..." (pp. 161-2) "To my mind, one point seems most important: we can surpass the Communists if we make the most of the inherent advantages of the democratic way of life. We believe in the individual. This belief can be justified only if we bring out the best in each individual. And what is best should be found and developed at an early age. This is how we should sow the seeds for tomorrow..." Commencement, University of Detroit, June 11, 1964.

University of Detroit

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