Leo Szilard, near Oxford, spring/summer
1936. Photo copyright U.C. Regents; used by permission.
Contact Special Collections and
Archives, U.C. San Diego, for
information on obtaining Szilard images.
Welcome to the world of physicist, molecular biologist, and
“scientist of conscience” Leo Szilard (1898-1964).
Szilard conceived the nuclear chain reaction in 1933,
and spent the rest of his life trying to protect the world from nuclear weapons.
Szilard’s other inventions
included the linear accelerator, cyclotron, and electron
In his 1929 paper on Maxwell’s Demon, Szilard identified
the unit or “bit” of information. The rise of the Information Age
shows the importance of his long-unappreciated idea.
Szilard’s name can be pronounced in different ways. In
Hungary, it is pronounced SEE-lahrd. English speakers usually pronounce it as ZIL-ahrd or zuh-LAHRD.
His name is pronounced by several people who knew him in the videos below.
Leo Szilard - A Biographical Chronology.
Leo Szilard the Inventor -- full text of a talk delivered at the Budapest Centenary.
Photographs of Szilard’s boyhood house in Budapest.
Remembering Leo Szilard - In RealAudio.
Leo Szilard, Interview: “President Truman Did Not Understand.”
Albert Einstein - F.B.I. interview.
“Are We On The Road To War?” - The speech that launched the Council
for a Livable World.
Leo Szilard and Ernest O. Lawrence - 1935 photo.
Aaron Novick 1919-2000 Aaron Novick, Leo Szilard’s
long-time collaborator in molecular biology, died December 21, 2000 at
the age of 81.
Atomic Bomb: Decision - A collection of documents on
the decision to use the first atomic bombs, and Szilard’s attempts
to prevent this — including his July 17, 1945 petition to President Truman.
This is the most popular page on the Dannen.com website.
It has received millions of visitors.
Einstein’s letter to Roosevelt, August 2, 1939
- Images of the letter, and how it came to be written.
Jacob Bronowski invokes his friend Szilard in the most famous scene
in “The Ascent of Man” - From “My Father,
The Bomb and Me” by Bronowski’s daughter Lisa Jardine.
The Many Worlds of Leo Szilard
- Speakers Richard Garwin, Matthew Meselson, and William Lanouette
discuss Szilard at the APS Forum on the History of Physics at the
April 2014 meeting of the American Physical Society. (1 hour, 41 minutes)
Leo Szilard: The Man Behind the Bomb
- William Lanouette talks about Szilard at the UC San Diego library. (50 minutes)
New and Notable Publications
Wellerstein’s Nuclear Secrecy
Blog in 2015:
demonstrate or not to demonstrate?
there alternatives to the atomic bombings? ||
Wellerstein’s Nuclear Secrecy
Blog in 2014:
|| Leo Szilard, war criminal?
|| Death dust, 1941
|| Szilard's chain reaction, visionary or crank?
|| The Kyoto misconception ||
1992 Szilard biography
Genius in the Shadows
was re-issued in 2013 by Skyhorse Publishing.
bibliography of works by and about Leo Szilard
has been compiled by Nelson H.F. Beebe.
P.D. Smith’s book Doomsday
Men: The Real Dr Strangelove and the Dream of the Superweapon was
published by Penguin in 2007.
of Science: Five Physicists Who Changed the Twentieth Century
by Istvan Hargittai was published by Oxford University Press in 2006.
Ever Ready To Go:
The Multiple Exiles of Leo Szilard (PDF), one of the best studies of Szilard,
was published in Physics in Perspective in 2005.
as Inventor: Accelerators and More by Valentine Telegdi, in the October 2000 issue of Physics
Today. See the
response by Gene Dannen in the March 2001 issue.
Leo Szilard Centennial 1998
The 100th anniversary of Szilard’s
birth was celebrated in 1998 in both Hungary and the U.S.A.. In February,
a Centenary Conference was
held in Budapest. One of the sessions convened in the Hungarian
Parliament. This page
of photographs of the Budapest events by
Gene Dannen and William Lanouette includes information about the
published conference volume. In addition, Hungary
issued a Szilard postage stamp
and telephone card. In April,
a Szilard centennial session was held at
a meeting of the American Physical Society.
Leo Szilard’s unpublished papers and correspondence are held
Collections and Archives, University of California, San Diego.
Register of the Leo Szilard Papers is online. The entire collection
is now being scanned and digitized. Beginning May 1, 2015, scans are being added to the
online digital collection.
The Leo Szilard
Lectureship Award, given yearly by the American Physical Society, honors “outstanding accomplishments by
physicists in promoting the use of physics for the benefit of
society.” It is sponsored by the
A.P.S. Forum on
Physics and Society.
Photos of Szilard also may be found on these pages:
This page of Einstein: Image and Impact at the AIP Center for History of Physics (Szilard with Einstein)
The Emilio Segre Visual Archives at the AIP Center for History of Physics has 26 pictures online.
Copyright © 1995-2015 Gene Dannen|
Created: March 30, 1995 Last modified: August 9, 2015
Gene Dannen / email@example.com