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Born into Jewish family. • Mathematical prodigy. • Educated in private schools. • Left Budapest to study chemical engineering in Karlsruhe, Germany. • Became intrigued in physics, particularly the new quantum mechanics. • Transferred to University of Munich in 1928. • Lost right foot in a street car accident. • Transferred to University of Leipzig. • Studied with Werner Heisenberg. • Received mydoctorate in physics in 1930 and took a job as research consultant at the University of Göttingen. • First published paper, "Hydrogen Molecular Ion“ • Immigrated to Denmark in 1934. • Joined the Institute for Theoretical Physics. • Married Augusta Harkanyi. • Went to United States 1935 to follow and work with myfriend George Gamow.
Gamow and I formed the Gamow-Teller rules for classifying subatomic particle behavior in radioactive decay. • Threat of atomic bomb in Hitler’s Germany scared the U.S. • In 1941 Ijoined America's best physicists in the top secret Manhattan Project. Our mission: to develop the atom bomb before the Germans did. • I moved to the isolated laboratory at Los Alamos, New Mexico. Here, under Oppenheimer's leadership, the first atomic bomb would be built. • In 1945, the atom bomb was successfully tested at Alamogordo, New Mexico. • When the Russians detonated their own atomic bomb, President Harry S. Truman ordered the Los Alamos lab to develop a fusion weapon. In 1952, the first hydrogen bomb was successfully detonated on Eniwetok Atoll in the Pacific Ocean. • The Atomic Energy Commission responded by establishing the Lawrence Livermore Laboratory in northern California. I served in succession as consultant, associate director and finally director of the Livermore lab. • Over the years, I continued to advocate a strong national defense. Imade headlines in the 1970s, promoting the development of nuclear fusion as an alternative to other sources of energy. • Iwas the author of over a dozen books, mostly dealing with nuclear energy and defense issues.
From 1975, Iwas a senior research fellow at the Hoover Institute for the study of war, revolution, and peace at Stanford University in Palo Alto, California. I died at my home on the University campus at the age of 95.