Timeline Description: Edward Teller (1908 - 2003) was a Hungarian-born American nuclear physicist best known for his role in developing the hydrogen bomb, which was the world's first thermonuclear weapon. After growing interested in molecular ions and atomic physics while at university, he devoted himself to developing nuclear weapons and played a role in creating the atomic bomb. Following World War II, he advised the American government on its nuclear arsenal to keep it ahead of the Soviet Union.
|January 15, 1908||Edward Teller is born.
Edward Teller is born to a wealthy Jewish family in Budapest, Hungary, which is part of the Austro-Hungarian empire. He quickly falls in love with mathematics, but his father urges him to study chemistry as a more lucrative career. Teller secretly continues to study mathematics, until his father gives up and lets him pursue his interests.
|1930||Teller earns a Ph.D. in physical chemistry.
After earning a degree in chemical engineering in Germany, Teller attends university in Munich and Leipzig and earns his Ph.D. in physical chemistry from the University of Leipzig. His doctoral thesis, which he writes under Werner Heisenberg, the creator of the Uncertainty Principle, is one of the first accurate considerations of the hydrogen molecular ion.
|1935||Teller and his wife move to the United States.
After teaching at the University of Göttingen, Teller, like most of his colleagues, is forced to flee Germany as the Nazis rise to power. Teller and his wife, Augusta "Mici" Harkanyi, move
|1939||Teller theorizes the Jahn-Teller Effect.
In 1939 Teller theorizes the Jahn-Teller Effect, which affects the chemical reaction of certain metals and the coloration of metallic dyes. Teller also works with two other physicists to propose the Brunauer-Emmett-Teller (BET) isotherm, which is an important contribution to surface physics and chemistry.
|September 1941||Enrico Fermi inspires Teller's study of fusion weapons.
After getting his U.S. citizenship, Teller meets with the physicist Enrico Fermi. Fermi proposes that fission explosion might induce the fusion of hydrogen nuclei, and this idea
|April 1943||Teller joins the Manhattan Project.
J. Robert Oppenheimer recruits Teller to join his secret Manhattan Project at the New Mexico Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory in 1943. Having worked with Teller at the University of California, Berkeley, Oppenheimer hopes Teller will lend his expertise to building a fission bomb to be used in the war. However, Teller begins to digress from this project to focus on his own interest in developing a thermonuclear hydrogen fusion bomb, or "Super," which is potentially more powerful than the fission bomb. He is ultimately removed from the theoretical division of the project due to his disagreements with the projects' leaders.
|October 30, 1949||Oppenheimer declares the "Super" to be dangerous and immoral.
The Pacific theater of World War II ends with the successful deployment of the atomic bomb at Hiroshima and Nagasaki. However, Oppenheimer and most Manhattan Project
|January 1950||President Harry Truman orders the development of the hydrogen bomb.
Teller continues to work on developing the hydrogen bomb after the end of the war, especially after the Soviet Union successfully tests an atomic bomb in 1949. In January
|March 1951||Teller and Stanislaw Marcin Ulam formulate a successful configuration.
Teller's team is relatively unsuccessful in creating a hydrogen weapon until the physicist Stanislaw Marcin Ulam suggests using an atomic bomb's mechanical shock to make a
|1952||Teller helps establish the second U.S. nuclear weapons laboratory.
In 1952 Teller helps establish the U.S.'s second nuclear weapons laboratory, the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, in California. The laboratory manufactures thermonuclear weapons for the next forty years. Teller serves as Livermore's associate director from 1954 to 1958 and from 1960 to 1975, and as its director from 1958 to 1960.
|November 1, 1952||The first hydrogen bomb is successfully tested.
Using the Teller-Ulam configuration, the first hydrogen bomb, "Mike," is successfully tested at Enewetak Atoll in the Pacific Ocean on November 1, 1952. Its explosion is the equivalent
|April 28, 1954||Teller testifies against Oppenheimer at U.S. government hearings.
In 1954 the U.S. government hears testimony regarding Oppenheimer's potential security risks, and Teller testifies against his former colleague. At the end of the hearings, Oppenheimer loses his position as a science administrator, and his security clearance is revoked. Many nuclear physicists see Teller's testimony as a betrayal and refuse to speak to him for over 30 years, which causes Teller great sorrow.
|1982||Teller advises the Strategic Defense Initiative.(1982 - 1983)
Teller serves as a government adviser on nuclear weapons policy throughout the 1970s. From 1982 to 1983 he plays a prominent role in the development of President Ronald Reagan's Strategic Defense Initiative, which is meant to create a defense system against potential nuclear attacks by the Soviet Union.
|July 2003||Teller is awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
In recognition of his work on developing the hydrogen bomb and promoting the growth of the U.S. nuclear arsenal, Teller is awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President George W. Bush in 2003.
|September 9, 2003||Teller dies.
Edward Teller dies on September 9, 2003, in Stanford, California. While he supported the