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Edward Teller has died. Despite the pies in the face, and the calumny from the ignorant, he was a valiant warrior for human freedom.

Posted by Rand Simberg at September 09, 2003 09:24 PM
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I had the pleasure of attending a Teller lecture at UCLA many years ago. A brilliant man who will loom large in the history books. RIP.

Posted by E.T. Bryan at September 10, 2003 01:27 AM

He was a great thinker, RIP. I've read and seen stories on the tube concerning him and Robert Oppenheimer. Was he not involved in getting Oppenheimer removed from the post war development projects? That's the way I seem to remember the stories.

Posted by Steb at September 10, 2003 06:31 AM

Involved, yes. Solely responsible, no.

From what I've read about it it's clear the whole situation was a mess, and it was almost certain Oppenheimer would've lost his security clearance whether Teller testified or not--there was plenty of "evidence" against him.

It's difficult to pass judgment on Teller because we can't really know what his motives were. There was probably a degree of personal animosity involved, but he may genuinely have believed what he was saying.

There's probably a lesson to be learned somewhere in here ("don't try to cover up for spies even if they are your friends", or "the success of a witch hunt depends solely on the desires of the hunters") but IMO it's an episode best relegated to the inanities of the McCarthy era and forgotten.

Teller's work will not be forgotten anytime soon.

Posted by Sanitation Engineer #6 at September 10, 2003 07:55 AM

Oppenheimer had put up a number of blocks against the development of the H-Bomb and, considering some of his associations with communists (his wife, his brother, his mistress, among others), Oppenheimer wasn't going to get his security clearance re-up'ed.

On the hearings on the matter, the AEC (and Congress later on) pretty much lined up a bunch of scientists who couldn't quite defend Oppenheimer completely -- he had done some damage to the development of the H Bomb -- and since all of THAT went down, IIRC, in 1949, the year the Russians built their own, it was bureaucractically inevitable that Oppenheimer was going to get cashiered.

Luis Alvarez, no stranger to the whole atomic program, said it best that while no one really beleived Oppenheimer was a security threat, no one could quite defend him vigourously either... and that, ultimately, Oppenheimer was "more or less damned by faint praise."

Posted by Andrew at September 10, 2003 01:07 PM

If ye would have peace...

Posted by David Mercer at September 11, 2003 03:12 AM

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