Manhattan Project Scientists: Edward Teller

An ID photo of a man with the letter U and number 10 under his collar.
Edward Teller is regarded as the “Father of the Hydrogen Bomb”.


Quick Facts
“Father” of the hydrogen bomb
Place of Birth:
Budapest, Hungary
Date of Birth:
January 15, 1908
Place of Death:
Stanford, CA
Date of Death:
September 9, 2003

Born in Hungary in 1908, Edward Teller received his BS in chemical engineering from the University of Karlsruhe in Germany in 1928. In 1930 he received his PhD in physics from the University of Leipzig. Fearing the rise of Nazism, Teller left Germany in 1933, first to Denmark, then London, and finally the United States in 1935, joining Enrico Fermi at the University of Chicago. In 1939 Teller, along with colleagues Eugene Wigner and Leo Szilard, visited Albert Einstein’s Long Island, NY home to convince Einstein to sign a letter warning President Franklin Roosevelt of Germany’s attempt to create an atomic weapon, urging the United States to do the same. The “Einstein Letter” served as a catalyst for the creation of the Manhattan Project. 

In 1943 Teller traveled to Los Alamos, joining Project Y as Director of the Theoretical Division and contributing to the ultimately successful implosion method developed at the secret laboratory. Teller witnessed the Gadget detonation on July 16, 1945. 

After the war, and after the Soviet Union successfully detonated an atomic bomb in 1949, Teller urged President Harry Truman to develop a hydrogen bomb program which Truman approved the following year. Collaborating with mathematician Stanislaw Ulam, Teller developed the world’s first hydrogen bomb design in 1951. In 1952, the hydrogen bomb was successfully tested in the Pacific Ocean. The bomb, called the Mike Shot, was 1,000 times more powerful than the uranium bomb dropped on Hiroshima in 1945. Teller and Ulam’s hydrogen bomb design remains classified to this day. Edward Teller died in California in 2003. 

Manhattan Project National Historical Park

Last updated: September 26, 2023