More likely, France struggled after 1815 because every male over 13 was dead, but the Wellington Hypothesis works too…
And Geoff is back! Back to the main story (and glorious color) next Tuesday!
I have been spending the last week reading the Memoirs of Edward Teller. My previous knowledge of Teller was the standard Teller = Dude Who Ratted Out Oppenheimer story. So, I was expecting to be routinely pissed off by the book. But, as it turns out, it’s actually pretty damn awesome, both as science and history. You get a story of youth in the Austro-Hungarian Empire, of World War I and Communist Insurrection followed by Fascist Militarism, all culminating in flight to Germany where you are treated to story after story of Teller playing ping-pong with Heisenberg, Teller hanging out with Niels Bohr, Teller proof-reading one of Eddington’s bat-shit insane later works… then on to America where it’s Teller and Feynman, Teller and Oppenheimer, Teller and Einstein, Teller and Fermi, Teller and von Neumann, Teller and von Karman, Teller and von Braun… Everything told in this engaging, open, and objectively self-analytic manner. For those American military history buffs, there’s even some neat little stories about Rickover, Le May, and Doolittle in there. In short, it wonderfully captures the sheer density of Awesome Scientists walking the Earth at the time. Getting into the 1950s, it starts to drag, but for those first 400 pages I was a happy, happy man.
Of course, that leaves the issue of whether Teller was right in his constant advocacy of ever more destructive Nuclear Weapons as a deterrent against the Soviet Union. Which I’m perfectly happy to leave as, being an immensely superficial human, I’ll stomach a hundred self-justifications for the development of atomic weaponry if, at the end of the day, you’ll give me just one anecdote about the relative poker playing skills of John von Neumann and Curtis Le May…
– Count Dolby von Luckner