Should the Scientist Be King?

Two years after Hitler came to power, the Hungarian-born physicist Edward Teller left Germany for the United States to escape politics and retreat into the laboratory. But no scientist in the 20th century has been more involved in politics than Teller. An eminent and controversial figure, Teller worked with many of the most brilliant scientists of his generation—Bohr, Fermi, Szilard and Oppenheimer. Often called “the father of the hydrogen bomb,” Teller is coming to be known a

Edward Teller
Nov 1, 1987

Two years after Hitler came to power, the Hungarian-born physicist Edward Teller left Germany for the United States to escape politics and retreat into the laboratory. But no scientist in the 20th century has been more involved in politics than Teller. An eminent and controversial figure, Teller worked with many of the most brilliant scientists of his generation—Bohr, Fermi, Szilard and Oppenheimer. Often called “the father of the hydrogen bomb,” Teller is coming to be known as “the father of SDI,” President Reagan’s Strategic Defense Initiative. His involvement in both projects has earned him both the praise and the scorn of scientists and nonscientists alike. In his book Better a Shield Than a Sword: Perspectives on Defense & Technology (Free Press, 1987) Teller reflects on his life and offers his views on a range of science, technology and defense issues. In an interview with THE SCIENTIST (September 21, 1987, p....