Genius in the Shadows

Genius in the Shadows

A Biography of Leo Szilard : the Man Behind the Bomb

Book - 1992
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Baker & Taylor
A portrait of the physicist who developed the idea of obtaining energy from nuclear chain reactions

Book News
A detailed but highly accessible account of the life and work of the great scientist (1898-1964) associated both with the development of nuclear power and, later, with its control based on some 200 interviews, exclusive family records and photos, archival research, and more than 300 personal letters from Szilard to his wife that were discovered in 1987. Lanouette's (senior energy policy analyst, US GAO) collaborator, Bela Silard, is Leo Szilard's brother. Annotation copyright Book News, Inc. Portland, Or.

Blackwell North Amer
Leo Szilard, known in scientific circles as the "father of the atom bomb," has been overshadowed by such luminaries as Albert Einstein, Enrico Fermi, J. Robert Oppenheimer, and Edward Teller. Yet it was Szilard who first developed the idea of obtaining energy from nuclear chain reactions, and who first, with Einstein, pressed the U.S. government to begin atomic research and co-designed (with Fermi) the first nuclear reactor.
A shy, witty eccentric who preferred giving those in power his many bright ideas, Szilard was also difficult and mercurial, a "genius in the shadows," restless in mind and spirit, often confounding to his colleagues. Just as readily he could be puckish, playful, and profoundly generous with fresh insights - whether perceiving in the 1920s the basis of "information theory" decades before it was developed by others, or whimsically predicting in 1960, with both political satire and practical strategies, how the U.S.-Soviet nuclear arms race would end in the 1980s.
Szilard more than anyone lived both sides of the arms race, working first to prevent, then to hasten, and finally to outlaw nuclear weapons. Born in Hungary and educated in Berlin during the heyday of modern physics, he fled Hitler's regime in 1933 and that year first conceived the nuclear chain reaction. This invention he kept secret, lest Nazi scientists use the idea. But with Germany at war in 1939, Szilard's warning with Einstein led to the "Manhattan Project" that built the first A-bombs. The war won, Szilard led the successful lobbying in 1945 for civilian control of atomic energy; he gained Nikita Khrushchev's personal assent in 1960 to the Moscow-Washington "hotline"; and he founded in 1962 the first political action committee for arms control, the Council for a Livable World.
His second career, biology, sparked ideas that won others the Nobel Prize, and his concept for a think tank to blend science and social issues became the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in La Jolla, California, where Szilard spent his final days.

& Taylor

A portrait of the physicist who developed the idea of obtaining energy from nuclear chain reactions, co-designed (with Enrico Fermi) the first nuclear reactor, and worked to prevent the deployment of nuclear weapons.

Publisher: New York : C. Scribner's Sons ; Toronto : Maxwell Macmillan Canada ; New York : Maxwell Macmillan International, c1992.
ISBN: 9780684190112
Branch Call Number: 920 SZILARD, L.
Characteristics: xix, 587 p., [16] p. of plates : ill. ; 25 cm.
Additional Contributors: Silard, Bela A.


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