Leo Szilard invented the atomic bomb. Szilard was born in Budapest, Hungary, but claimed German citizenship. Szilard knew Boris Pregel, president of the Canadian Radium and Uranium Corporation before World War II when both lived in Europe. Szilard came to the United States approximately 1940.
Szilard is the first known person to have the idea of a nuclear chain reaction. He had this moment of insight on September 12, 1933 as he was crossing the street in London. Such an event would release massive amounts of energy. It convinced Enrico Fermi, Einstein, and others that it is possible. Szilard received a US patent for it. He wrote a letter dated August 2, 1939 that he had Einstein sign to U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt stating that a powerful new bomb could be created. This resulted in the Manhattan Project. In 1945, after the Manhattan Project had made a successful atomic bomb, Szilard started a petition, signed by a number of his fellow atomic scientists, requesting that the bomb not be used against Japan. He alongside Oppenheimer, Bohr, and Fermi were also later suspected of selling atomic secrets to the Soviets.
Szilard later worked on molecular biology. In 1961, Szilard published a group of short stories entitled The Voice of the Dolphins and Other Stories: And Other Stories (part of a series called the Stanford Nuclear Age, ISBN 0804717540). The title story presented the idea of an international biology research laboratory in Europe. In 1962, Victor F. Weisskopf, James Watson and John Kendrew met to plan the implementation the idea. This led to the European Molecular Biology Laboratory was founded in Heidelberg in 1974. It now has several satellite locations.
- Manhattan Project
- Albert Einstein
- J. Robert Oppenheimer
- Niels Bohr
- Edward Teller
- Enrico Fermi
- Richard Feynman
- Rhodes, Richard (1986). The Making of the Atomic Bomb. New York: Simon and Schuster. ISBN 0671441337 pp. 292–293."In London, where Southampton Row passes Russell Square, across from the British Museum in Bloomsbury, Leo Szilard waited irritably one gray Depression morning for the stoplight to change. A trace of rain had fallen during the night; Tuesday, September 12, 1933, dawned cool, humid and dull. Drizzling rain would begin again in early afternoon. When Szilard told the story later he never mentioned his destination that morning. He may have had none; he often walked to think. In any case another destination intervened. The stoplight changed to green. Szilard stepped off the curb. As he crossed the street time cracked open before him and he saw a way to the future, death into the world and all our woes, the shape of things to come."