I came to know Edward Teller through my work on cold fusion.
He contacted me one day by telephone. It was a surprise to hear from the great man who was in residence at the Hoover Institute, walking distance from my home (and garage) in Palo Alto.
Thus began a ‘crazy’ mischugenon tale of two scientists
The legendary Dr. Teller, aka Dr. Strangelove, had learned of an experiment I had conducted which had worried me sufficiently that I’d called around to some colleagues in nuclear science to determine whether I was “cooked” or not. The data I’d shared with a colleague in a near-by national laboratory suggested I was exposed to 10 kilorem of neutrons but I was alive and well and that made the experiment and the data a real mystery. By whatever process Dr. Teller rang me up and asked me to tell him the full story of the experiment which I did with some humility. The experiment contained nano-palladium I had obtained from a source I had worked with and used in new work that made prodigious helium and some other effects.
My experiment was with deuterium gas, the nano-palladium in a tightly sealed thin glass cell in the presence of intense UV light which was an internal facet/product of the experiment. Naturally there were a few other tweaks.
What I described to Dr. Teller, the real Dr. Strangelove, was how I had measured what I thought must be a very large flux of neutrons using only an Aware Geiger counter and some various metal foils. I assumed the “neutrons” would yield an N-Gamma or N-Alpha reaction when I exposed the suspect neutrons to various metal foils with different neutron absorption cross sections. Indeed as metals with increasingly higher neutron cross-sections were placed in the flux the Geiger count rate increased until finally with certain metals the Geiger counts would saturate the device.
When I explained to Dr Tell apologetically that my “primitive” technique was far from a more modern neutron spectrometer approach he interrupted me saying.
“Do not apologize for your methods, you have measured these ‘neutrons’ the way real men measured neutrons when we first discovered them! Now go on tell me more of the details.”
After a long conversation he said he would give this some thought but one thing he said that was reassuring was that since the Geiger readings were so large had what radiation I was measuring been ordinary neutrons I should surely have been “cooked”. Since I was not the particles emanating from the experiment must be something entirely new, some mishegnons perhaps, crazy particles, until now unknown to science. Interacting more with elements with a high neutron cross section but rather more weakly so than any normal neutron.
Later after more interactions and a lot of helpful advice and brainstorming collaboration he and others in the secret world wanted me to form a foundation he called the “Long Range Foundation” it would support and pursue my work. The legal agreement the “foundation” wanted me to sign was read by my attorney who was a very prominent Silicon Valley legal expert and prominent politician and he told me in no uncertain terms that I must never sign such an agreement lest I be made to disappear. He explained to me that there is more to the myths of secrets behind the fences of Area 51 than the public acknowledges. I didn’t sign it and establish the Long Range Foundation and I think I regret it now. But such is life.
An interesting note was Teller’s keen interest in Lithium 6, the more scarce isotope of lithium. He revealed to me a good deal of his ideas about the isotope and how it was crucial in his version of HOT fusion as in the hydrogen bomb. Today it, 6Li, seems it might have a significant role in cold fusion as well something hinted to me those years ago.
When Dr. Teller died I was moved by having had spent a little high quality time with him and benefited greatly from his brain storming with me. Along with Bud Zumwalt who I also worked with in this strange new physics realm I have come to remembering these days as being the time I was “in the room with the big board in the company of Dr. Strangelove.”
Here’s his obit from the NY Times…
Edward Teller, a Fierce Architect of the Hydrogen Bomb, Is Dead at 95
Published: September 11, 2003
Edward Teller, a towering figure of science who had a singular impact on the development of the nuclear age, died late Tuesday at his home in Stanford, Calif. He was 95.
Widely seen as a troubled genius, Dr. Teller generated hot debate for more than a half century, even as he engendered many features of the modern world.
A creator of quantum physics who loved to play Bach and Beethoven as an amateur pianist, the Hungarian-born physicist helped found the nuclear era with his work on the atom bomb, played a dominant role in inventing the hydrogen bomb (though he often protested being called its father), battled for decades on behalf of nuclear power and lobbied fervently for the building of antimissile defenses, which the nation is now erecting.
His antimissile efforts, obsessive by most accounts and dismissed by critics as doomed to failure, were his way of trying to protect his adopted country from the horrors he helped bring into the world.