SZILARD, LEO

SZILARD, LEO (1898–1964), Hungarian physicist and extraordinary polymath. He was born in Budapest and studied at the Minta School and at Budapest Technical University (1916–19). His engineering course was disrupted by World War I service in the Austro-Hungarian army (1917) from which he was discharged because of illness. Horthy's antisemitic policies persuaded him to leave Hungary for Berlin (1920) where   he gained his Ph.D. in physics from the University of Berlin (1922). He worked in different departments of the University of Berlin and for the German General Electric Company (1922–33) before leaving for England with the rise of the Nazis. He did research at St Bartholomew's Hospital, London, and the Clarendon Laboratory, Oxford University (1933–38) before immigrating to the U.S. He worked at Columbia University, New York, before moving to the University of Chicago (1942). He was appointed professor of biophysics at the university's Institute of Radiobiology and Biophysics (1946) but changed to biology (1947) and started a molecular biology laboratory (1948–53). After a period without formal affiliation except as visiting professor to Brandeis University, Waltham, Mass., he again returned to the University of Chicago as professor of biophysics at the Enrico Fermi Institute for Nuclear Studies (1956–61). He became a resident fellow of the Salk Institute, La Jolla, California (1964–66). Szilard's scientific career began with an outstandingly original thesis on thermodynamics. In Germany he collaborated with albert einstein (1926–33) in designing a novel domestic refrigerator and induction pump, filed patents on the linear accelerator, cyclotron, and electron microscope, taught quantum physics with john von neumann , and published his analysis of Maxwell's Demon. In England he conceived and patented (1934) the idea of a neutron chain reaction despite the skepticism of many physicists and was at once aware of the implications. After Hahn and Strassman's discovery of uranium fission, (with Walter Zinn) he showed that neutrons are emitted during this process. His experiments with Enrico Fermi led to the construction of the world's first nuclear reactor. He advised his colleagues in the Manhattan Project on reactor design and correctly predicted that radiation damage to reactor constituents could release stored energy; this accounted for the accident involving Britain's Windscale reactor (1957). He was later a creative contributor to the work on phages (viruses which infect bacteria) which initiated modern molecular biology and an influential theorist in the field of enzyme regulation. His World War I experience and the Japanese invasion of China made Szilard averse to militarism. However his alarm, shared by eugene wigner and edward teller , that the Nazis might develop nuclear weapons persuaded Einstein to write to Roosevelt, thereby initiating the Manhattan Project. Szilard's opposition to political interference with scientific freedom led to conflict with General Groves, the overall Project commander. After Germany's defeat he also expressed moral reservations over using nuclear weapons against Japan. After the war he was prominent among Project scientists opposing military control of atomic energy. He attended the first Pugwash conference (1957) and participated in the Pugwash movement and other movements for world security. His writings included the elegant essays The Voice of the Dolphins (1961). He was elected to membership of the U.S. Academy of Arts and Sciences (1954) and National Academy of Sciences (1961). When he fell ill, he designed the radiation therapy that cured his bladder cancer (1959). (Michael Denman (2nd ed.)

Encyclopedia Judaica. 1971.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Szilard , Leo — (1898–1964) Hungarian–American physicist Szilard, the son of an architect, studied engineering in his native city of Budapest before moving to the University of Berlin where he began the study of physics and obtained his doctorate in 1922. He… …   Scientists

  • Szilard, Leo — SUBJECT AREA: Weapons and armour [br] b. 11 February 1898 Budapest, Hungary d. 30 May 1964 La Jolla, California, USA [br] Hungarian (naturalized American in 1943) nuclear and biophysicist. [br] The son of an engineer, Szilard, after service in… …   Biographical history of technology

  • Szilard, Leo — born Feb. 11, 1898, Budapest, Hung., Austria Hungary died May 30, 1964, La Jolla, Calif., U.S. Hungarian born U.S. physicist. He taught at the University of Berlin (1922–33), then fled to England (1934–37) and the U.S., where he worked at the… …   Universalium

  • Szilard,Leo — Szi·lard (zĭlʹərd, zə lärdʹ), Leo. 1898 1964. Hungarian born American physicist and biologist. A member of the Manhattan Engineering Project, he helped develop the first atomic bomb. Szilard was later opposed to the construction and use of all… …   Universalium

  • Szilard, Leo — (1898 1964)    American physicist of Hungarian origin. He studied at the University of Berlin. With the rise of Nazism, he went to England and worked at Oxford University. He then went to the US. From 1960 he was professor at the Enrico Fermi… …   Dictionary of Jewish Biography

  • Szilard, Leo — (11 feb. 1898, Budapest, Hungría, Austria Hungría–30 may. 1964, La Jolla, Cal., EE.UU.). Físico estadounidense nacido en Hungría. Enseñó en la Universidad de Berlín (1922–33), luego huyó a Inglaterra (1934–37) y a EE.UU., donde trabajó en la… …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • Szilard, Leo —  (1898–1964) Hungarian born American physicist …   Bryson’s dictionary for writers and editors

  • Leo Szilard — Leó Szilárd 1916 im Alter von 18 Jahren Leó Szilárd (* 11. Februar 1898 in Budapest; † 30. Mai 1964 in La Jolla, Kalifornien) war ein ungarisch deutsch amerikanischer Physiker und …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Leó Szilárd — (11 de febrero de 1898 30 de mayo de 1964) fue un físico judío húngaro estadounidense que trabajó en el Proyecto Manhattan. Nació en Budapest y murió en La Jolla, California …   Wikipedia Español

  • Leo Szilard — Leó Szilárd Leó Szilárd en 1916 Leó Szilárd (11 février 1898 à Budapest– 30 mai 1964 à La Jolla en Californie) était un physicien hungaro américain. Parmi les premiers à envisager les applications miltaires de l énergie… …   Wikipédia en Français

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