Stanford (California), Sept. 10 (Reuters): Edward Teller, a pioneer in molecular physics dubbed the “father of the H-bomb” for his role in the early development of nuclear weapons, died yesterday, a Stanford University spokeswoman said. He was 95.
Elaine Ray, a spokeswoman for the Stanford University news service, said Teller had suffered a stroke earlier this week and died at his home on the university campus yesterday.
A naturalised US citizen born in Hungary, Teller was a key member of a group of top scientists who fled Hitler’s Germany and ended up working on the Manhattan Project, the secret programme that developed the atomic bomb. After the war, Teller pressed the case for a continued strong national defence, persuading President Harry Truman of the need for the far more powerful hydrogen bomb.
The US detonated the first H-bomb in November 1952.
It was 2,500 times more powerful than the atomic weapons dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945.
“It wasn’t a choice. Nuclear energy existed,” Teller said shortly before his 80th birthday. “We would have found it no matter what we did. It’s sheer arrogance to say we created the bomb.”
Earlier in his career Teller also taught physics and helped set up a graduate department in applied sciences at the University of California.
”Edward Teller was one of the world's leading scientific minds of the 20th century, and he made a major contribution to the security of our nation and world peace,” University of California President Richard C. Atkinson said in a statement.
At the time of his death, Teller was a senior research fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford, specialising in defence and energy policy.