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The Cast

February 2024
1min read

Hans Bethe

(1906-2005) Physicist, Nobel laureate, head of the Theoretical Division at wartime Los Alamos. His solar research led to speculations on the feasibility of a hydrogen bomb.

Haakon Chevalier

(1901-1985) Professor of French literature at the University of California, Berkeley, Communist, and close friend of Oppenheimer. In 1942 Chevalier asked Oppenheimer to help transfer information about the bomb to the Soviet Union. Oppenheimer refused, but the incident caused him much trouble later.

Albert Einstein

(1879-1955) The letter he addressed to President Roosevelt in 1939 (initiated by Szilard and Teller) ultimately led to the Manhattan Project and the first atomic bombs.

Enrico Fermi

(1901-1954) Physicist, Nobel laureate, key member of the Manhattan Project, first man to build a nuclear reactor (1942). He first proposed the possibility of a hydrogen bomb to Teller in 1941.

Klaus Fuchs

(1911-1988) German-born physicist who joined the Manhattan Project with the British contingent, later revealed as a spy for the Soviet Union.

Werner Heisenberg

(1901-1976) Nobel laureate best known for his uncertainty principle, Teller’s mentor, and head of the unsuccessful Nazi atomic bomb project.

J. Robert Oppenheimer

(1904-1967) Physicist, director of scientific programs at the Manhattan Project’s Los Alamos laboratory, “father of the atomic bomb,” Teller’s close friend and supervisor at Los Alamos. Although Oppenheimer supported dropping the first bombs on Japan, he spent the rest of his life arguing against nuclear proliferation.

Leo Szilard

(1898-1964) Hungarian-American physicist and biologist. Szilard co-wrote and instigated the famous Einstein letter, which urged President Roosevelt to consider development of the atomic bomb.

Theodore Von Kármán

(1881-1963) One of Teller’s fellow Hungarians and cofounder of Caltech’s (now NASA’s) Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena.

John Von Neumann

(1903-1957) Mathematician, chief designer of first programmable, general-purpose electronic computer and permanent data storage techniques. Another of Teller’s fellow “Martians.”

Stanislaw Ulam

(1909-1984) Mathematician, Manhattan Project veteran. His calculations proved Teller’s initial design for the H-bomb would not succeed.

Eugene Wigner

(1902-1995) Physicist, Nobel laureate, Manhattan Project veteran, and the fourth of Teller’s “Martians.”

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