Leo Szilard Online

Leo Szilard, near Oxford, spring 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). How do you say it? In Hungary, it is pronounced SEE-lahrd. Elsewhere, say SIL-ahrd.

Szilard's ideas included the linear accelerator, cyclotron, electron microscope, and nuclear chain reaction. Equally important was his belief that scientists should accept moral responsibility for the consequences of their work.

In his 1929 paper on Maxwell's Demon, Szilard identified the unit or "bit" of information. The World Wide Web that you now travel, and the computers that make it possible, show the importance of his long-unappreciated idea.

January 26, 2015. I'm pleased to announce the publication of an article that I think may be remembered as long as the story of the nuclear age is told... A Physicist's Lost Love: Leo Szilard and Gerda Philipsborn

"Are We On The Road To War?" Leo Szilard and the speech that launched the Council for a Livable World. Learn the story, read the speech, and hear Szilard answer questions in RealAudio.
The 100th anniversary of Szilard's birth was celebrated in 1998 in both Hungary and the U.S.A.. On 9-11 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. On 18 April, a Szilard centennial session was held at the April Meeting of the American Physical Society.
"The Einstein-Szilard Refrigerators" by Gene Dannen in the January 1997 issue of Scientific American. Translations have been published in Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Japanese, Polish, Spanish, and perhaps other languages. For more information, see this page of further references and notes to the article.


* 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.
* 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

* 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.

New and Notable Publications

* On Alex Wellerstein's Nuclear Secrecy Blog in 2014: || Leo Szilard, war criminal? || Death dust, 1941 || Szilard's chain reaction, visionary or crank? || The Kyoto misconception ||
* William Lanouette's 1992 Szilard biography Genius in the Shadows was re-issued in 2013 by Skyhorse Publishing.
* An enormous 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.
* The Martians of Science: Five Physicists Who Changed the Twentieth Century by Istvan Hargittai was published by Oxford University Press in 2006.
* Tibor Frank's article Ever Ready To Go: The Multiple Exiles of Leo Szilard (PDF) was published in Physics in Perspective in 2005.
* Szilard 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.

External Links

Leo Szilard's unpublished papers and correspondence are held by Special Collections and Archives, University of California, San Diego. The full Register of the Leo Szilard Papers is online. A scanning project is underway to digitize the entire 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.

Other sites with links to this page, or its subpages, include:

Council for a Livable World
Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists
The Nuclear Weapon Archive

American Institute of Physics, Center for History of Physics
Restricted Data: The Nuclear Secrecy Blog

This website is maintained by Gene Dannen, who is solely responsible for its content.
First created: March 30, 1995 -- Last modified: January 26, 2015
URL: http://www.dannen.com/szilard.html
Gene Dannen / gene@dannen.com