"I believe that there are periods in the intellectual development of the world which are particularly great. They are confined to periods not very long and to places not very extensive. That, in modern science, was something that occurred in central Europe."
What occurred in central Europe in the first decades of this century was a revolution in man's understanding of the universe. The breakthrough in physics is associated with a few extraordinary minds: Albert Einstein, Niels Bohr, Werner Heisenberg. One who knew and worked with them, and was at the very heart of this ferment, was Edward Teller.
Under Heisenberg at Leipzig, he helped lay the foundation of nuclear physics. His research with Enrico Fermi at the University of Chicago, led to the first controlled nuclear reaction. At Los Alamos with J. Robert Oppenheimer, Teller assisted the development of the first atomic bomb. At the height of the Cold War, he led the drive to develop the hydrogen bomb and waged a tireless struggle to establish the Lawrence Livermore Laboratory for thermonuclear research.
Through his ninth decade, he remained an ardent proponent of nuclear fusion and strategic missile defense. As one of the great pioneers of modern physics, and as a strenuous advocate for America's national security, Edward Teller made his mark on our times in a way that few could equal. Although his passionate convictions often brought him into conflict with his fellow scientists, his old friend, the Nobel Prize-winner Eugene Wigner, called him "one of the most thoughtful statesmen of science."