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The Martians of ScienceFive Physicists Who Changed the Twentieth Century$
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István Hargittai

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780195178456

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2007

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195178456.001.0001

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Being Martian

Being Martian

(p.187) CHAPTER SIX Being Martian
The Martians of Science

István Hargittai

Oxford University Press

To understand the Martians, it helps to compare them with their contemporaries, like Enrico Fermi and Robert Oppenheimer. Both Szilard and Fermi worked on the applications of physical discoveries for the defense of the United States. But for Fermi, this came from a feeling of duty, whereas for Szilard, saving the world was his leitmotiv. Teller and Oppenheimer came from similar backgrounds, but they clashed repeatedly in matters of national defense; Teller contributed to Oppenheimer’s destruction in the McCarthy era. The professed Jewish roots and strong Hungarian identity enhanced the complexity of the Martians’ natures. They generated mixed reactions in their peers, but everyone recognized them as great contributors to 20th-century history.

Keywords:   Szilard, Fermi, Teller, Oppenheimer, McCarthy era, Jewish roots, Hungarian identity

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