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When I was an undergraduate at the University of California at Berkeley in the early 1960s, Professor Emilio Segre occasionally ate lunch at Durant Hall where I resided. Twice I dined with him.

Segre was the 1959 Nobel Prize winner in physics who had worked on the Manhattan (atomic bomb) Project with Enrico Fermi, who set off the first nuclear reaction in a controlled experiment at the University of Chicago; Edward Teller, who advocated for the hydrogen bomb, which he later developed; and Robert Oppenheimer, director of the Project.

We never talked physics much as it was beyond my ken to do so, though I had taken Dr. Teller’s Physics 10 course. That led one day to a brief discussion about personalities at the Manhattan Project at Los Alamos, New Mexico.

That conversation intimated that Teller and Oppenheimer did not get along well. I said I found Teller in class to be rather affable and outgoing despite his gravelly voice and the way the Dr. Strangelove movie portrayed him. Segre smiled and shook his head.

Dr. Segre said Enrico, fellow Italian and Nobel laureate in physics, got bored in isolated Los Alamos, so he convinced him to join him fly fishing. Enrico got to enjoy that though he never could do it as well as Emilio. Segre said the fishing was very good in the area.

That lunch humanized our nuclear age for me a bit, though I have always felt its sheer terror.

 Gary Heath, Ph.D.

Clinton

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