Memoirs: A Twentieth-Century Journey in Science and Politics

By Edward Teller; Judith L. Shoolery | Go to book overview

34
THE DIRECTORSHIP
1958—1960

A FEW YEARS AGO, Freeman Dyson's son, George Dyson, paid me a visit in connection with his own interesting new book, Darwin Among the Machines. 1 Like his father, he is thoughtful and literate. He kindly brought along a transcription he had made of a letter that Freeman had written to his parents in the fall of 1958, following a visit to the Livermore laboratory.

Livermore was wildly exciting. The days I was there were the last days before the test-ban went into effect, and they were throwing together everything they possibly could to give it a try before the guillotine came down. Everyone was desperate and also exhilarated. Edward Teller, who is head of the Lab talked to me quite a lot about his plans. He was in very good spirits and pressed me with invitations to come and work for him. There are so many wild ideas and enthusiastic people at this place, I almost felt sorry to come back here at the end of the week.

A lot of the talk at Livermore was about cheating the test-ban. We found a lot of ways to cheat which would be quite impossible for any instruments to detect. The point of this is not that the Livermore people themselves intend to cheat, but we are convinced the Russians can cheat as much as they want any time they want, without being found out.

The circumstances surrounding Freeman's visit were these: Early in the summer of 1958, the news arrived that President Eisenhower and Premier

____________________
1
George B. Dyson, Darwin Among the Machines: The Evolution of Global Intelligence (Cambridge, Mass.: Perseus Books, 1997).

-436-

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