Leo Szilard

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Leo Szilard (1898 - 1964) "was born in Budapest, Hungary, on February 11, 1898. Due to racial quotas, he had to go to the Institute of Technology in Berlin due to racial quotas, where he met several brilliant physicists such as Albert Einstein and Max Planck. Szilard earned his doctorate in physics in 1922. He and Einstein became close friends.

"By 1933, Szilard was forced to resign and fled to London to escape Nazi persecution. Probably the first scientist to think seriously of building real atomic bombs, Szilard was struck by the possibility of a nuclear chain reaction on September 12, 1933, while he was waiting for a red light in London. Reportedly, the thought had occurred to Szilard as a result of his having been annoyed by Ernest Rutherford's dismissal of any talk of atomic energy as "moonshine."

"With the news that German scientists had discovered nuclear fission, Szilard immediately set up a series of experiments, in collaboration with Enrico Fermi, to see if the theory was correct. He first attempted to create a chain reaction using beryllium and indium, but neither yielded the reaction he expected. In 1936, he assigned the chain-reaction patent, to the British Admiralty to ensure its secrecy." [1]

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  1. Leo Szilard, atomicarchive, accessed April 19, 2010.