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Table of Contents

Biography

AbstractImportant DatesOccupationPlacesSubjects

Relationships

PeopleInstitutions

Resources

Archival as AuthorArchival as SubjectPublished as AuthorPublished as Subject

Leo Szilard

Photo

Dates

February 11, 1989 – May 30, 1964

Authorized Form of Name

Szilard, Leo

Biography

Abstract

Leo Szilard was Professor of Biophysics at University of Chicago (1946-1964). Other institutional affiliations include Columbia University and the Chicago Metallurgical Laboratory. As a physicist, he contributed to the fields of thermodynamics, biophysics, nuclear physics and the development of atomic energy. Szilard with Fermi, Zinn and Anderson proved the possibility of a nuclear chain reaction. He is most known for his role in the initiation of the Manhattan Project for developing an atomic bomb during World War II.

Important Dates

February 11, 1898Birth, Budapest (Hungary).

1916 – 1917Studied Engineering, Budapest Technical University, Budapest (Hungary).

1917 – 1918Soldier, Austro-Hungarian Army.

1919 – 1920Studied Theoretical Physics, Technical Institute of Berlin, Berlin (Germany).

1922Obtained PhD in Physics, University of Berlin, Berlin (Germany).

1925 – 1933Assistant to Max von Laue (1925-1928) and Privatdozent (1928-1933), University of Berlin, Berlin (Germany).

1934 – 1935Researcher, St. Bartholomew's Hospital, London.

1935 – 1938Research Fellow, Clarendon Laboratory, Oxford University.

1939 – 1942Unofficial Researcher (1939-1942) and Researcher, Division of War Research (1942), Columbia University.

1942 – 1946Researcher, Manhattan Project, Chicago Metallurgical Laboratory.

1946 – 1964Professor of Biophysics, University of Chicago, Chicago (Ill.).

1961Member, National Academy of Sciences.

1962 – 1964Co-Chair, Board of Directors, Council for a Livable World.

1964Research Fellow, Salk Institute for Biological Studies.

May 30, 1964Death, La Jolla (San Diego, Calif.).

Occupation

Nuclear physicist.

Places

Birth

Budapest (Hungary)

Undergraduate Education

Budapest (Hungary)

Berlin (Germany)

Graduate Education

Berlin (Germany)

Employment

Chicago (Ill.)

Death

La Jolla (San Diego, Calif.)

Subjects

Atomic bomb.

Biophysics.

Nuclear fission.

Nuclear physics.

Nuclear reactions.

Theoretical physics.

Thermodynamics.

Relationships

People

Family

Szilard, Gertrud

Wife.

Advisors & Collaborators

Farkas, L. (Ladislaus), 1904-1948

Research Assistant to Leo at University of Berlin.

Laue, Max von, 1879-1960

PhD advisor at University of Berlin (Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Berlin), "Über die thermodynamischen Schwankungserscheinungen."

Colleagues

Agnew, Harold M.

Both employed at the Chicago Metallurgical Laboratory, Manhattan Project.

Allison, Samuel King, 1900-1965

Both employed at University of Chicago and the Chicago Metallurgical Laboratory, Manhattan Project.

Alvarez, Luis W., 1911-1988

Both employed at the Chicago Metallurgical Laboratory, Manhattan Project.

Anderson, Herbert Lawrence

Both employed at University of Chicago; Chicago Metallurgical Laboratory, Manhattan Project; and Columbia University.

Booth, Eugene

Both employed at Columbia University.

Breit, Gregory, 1899-1981

Both employed at the Chicago Metallurgical Laboratory, Manhattan Project.

Cohen, Morrel H.

Both employed at University of Chicago.

Compton, Arthur Holly, 1892-1962

Worked together at the National Academy of Sciences Committee to Evaluate Use of Atomic Energy in War.

Creutz, E.

Both employed at the Chicago Metallurgical Laboratory, Manhattan Project.

Crewe, Albert V.

Both employed at University of Chicago.

Daniels, Farrington, 1889-1972

Both employed at Chicago Metallurgical Laboratory, Manhattan Project.

Davis, Bergen, 1869-1958

Both employed at Columbia University.

Dempster, Arthur Jeffrey

Both employed at University of Chicago and at the Chicago Metallurgical Laboratory, Manhattan Project.

Dunning, John R. (John Ray), 1907-1975

Both employed at Columbia University.

Eckart, Carl, 1902-1973

Both employed at University of Chicago.

Falicov, L. M. (Leopoldo Maximo), 1933-1995

Both employed at University of Chicago.

Ference, Michael, 1911-

Both employed at University of Chicago.

Fermi, Enrico, 1901-1954

Both employed at Columbia University and the Chicago Metallurgical Laboratory, Manhattan Project.

Foote, Frank G. (Frank Gale), 1906-

Both employed at Chicago Metallurgical Laboratory, Manhattan Project.

Franck, James, 1882-1964

Both employed at University of Chicago and the Chicago Metallurgical Laboratory, Manhattan Project.

Friedman, Jerome I. (Jerome Isaac), 1930-

Both employed at University of Chicago.

Fritzsche, Hellmut

Both employed at University of Chicago.

Goldberger, Marvin L.

Both employed at the Chicago Metallurgical Laboratory, Manhattan Project and University of Chicago.

Hilberry, Norman, 1899-

Both employed at the Chicago Metallurgical Laboratory, Manhattan Project.

Koshiba, Masatoshi, 1926-

Both employed at University of Chicago.

Kusch, Polykarp, 1911-1993

Both employed at Columbia University.

Lamb, Willis E. (Willis Eugene), 1913-2008

Both employed at Columbia University.

Manley, John Henry, 1907-

Both employed at Chicago Metallurgical Laboratory, Manhattan Project.

Marshall, John, 1917-1997

Both employed at Chicago Metallurgical Laboratory, Manhattan Project.

Monk, George Spencer, 1884

Both employed at Chicago Metallurgical Laboratory, Manhattan Project.

Morrison, Philip

Both employed at the Chicago Metallurgical Laboratory, Manhattan Project.

Mulliken, Robert Sanderson

Both employed at University of Chicago.

Nambu, Yoichiro, 1921-2015

Both employed at University of Chicago.

Pekeris, C. L. (Chaim Leib), 1908-1993

Both employed at Columbia University.

Phillips, J. C.

Both employed at University of Chicago.

Primakoff, H. (Henry), 1914-1983

Both employed at Columbia University.

Rabi, I. I. (Isidor Isaac), 1898-1988

Both employed at Columbia University.

Rieser, Leonard M.

Both employed at Chicago Metallurgical Laboratory, Manhattan Project.

Schrieffer, J. R. (John Robert), 1931-

Both employed at University of Chicago.

Schwinger, Julian, 1918-1994

Both employed at the Chicago Metallurgical Laboratory, Manhattan Project.

Seaborg, Glenn T. (Glenn Theodore), 1912-1999

Both employed at the Chicago Metallurgical Laboratory, Manhattan Project.

Simpson, John A. (John Alexander), 1916-2000

Both employed at Chicago Metallurgical Laboratory, Manhattan Project, and University of Chicago.

Smyth, Henry De Wolf, 1898-1986

Both employed at Chicago Metallurgical Laboratory, Manhattan Project.

Snell, Arthur H.

Both employed at Chicago Metallurgical Laboratory, Manhattan Project.

Spitzer, Lyman, 1914-1997

Both employed at Columbia University.

Stearns, Joyce C.

Both employed at Chicago Metallurgical Laboratory, Manhattan Project.

Telegdi, Val, 1922-2006

Both employed at University of Chicago.

Teller, Edward, 1908-2003

Both employed at University of Chicago and Columbia University.

Treiman, Sam B.

Both employed at University of Chicago.

Turkevich, Anthony, 1916-2002

Both employed at Chicago Metallurgical Laboratory, Manhattan Project.

Weinberg, Alvin Martin, 1915-2006

Both employed at Chicago Metallurgical Laboratory, Manhattan Project.

Wentzel, Gregor, 1898-1978

Both employed at University of Chicago.

Whitaker, Martin Dewey

Both employed at Chicago Metallurgical Laboratory, Manhattan Project.

Wigner, Eugene Paul, 1902-1995

Both employed at Chicago Metallurgical Laboratory, Manhattan Project.

Wilson, V. C.

Both employed at Chicago Metallurgical Laboratory, Manhattan Project.

Yang, Chen Ning, 1922-

Both employed at University of Chicago.

Zener, Clarence, 1905-

Both employed at University of Chicago.

Zinn, Walter H. (Walter Henry), 1906-2000

Both employed at Chicago Metallurgical Laboratory, Manhattan Project.

Additional

Bainbridge, Kenneth T. (Kenneth Tompkins), 1904-1996

Einstein, Albert, 1879-1955

Feld, Bernard Taub, 1919-

Garwin, Richard L.

Gell-Mann, Murray

Goldhaber, Maurice, 1911-2011

Greenewalt, Crawford H., 1902-1993

Grosse, Aristid von, 1905-1985

Hill, R. D. (Robert Dickson), 1913-

Inglis, David Rittenhouse, 1905-1995

Kleppner, Daniel

Kowarski, Lew

Kurti, Nicholas

Lazarus, David, 1921-

Levinger, Joseph S., 1921-

London, Fritz, 1900-1954

MacDuffie, Marshall

Mark, H. F. (Herman Francis), 1895-1992

Maurer, Robert Joseph, 1913-

Mayer, Joseph Edward, 1904-

Morse, Philip M. (Philip McCord), 1903-1985

Oppenheimer, J. Robert, 1904-1967

Polanyi, Michael, 1891-1976

Rabinowitch, Eugene, 1901-1973

Rutherford, Ernest, 1871-1937

Strauss, Lewis L.

Suess, Hans Eduard, 1909-

Tamm, I. E. (Igor' Evgen'evich), 1895-1971

Urey, Harold Clayton, 1893-1981

Waly, Adnan

Weisskopf, Victor Frederick, 1908-2002

Weizsacker, Carl Friedrich, Freiherr von, 1912-2007

Wiesner, Jerome B. (Jerome Bert), 1915-1994

Wilson, Robert R., 1914-2000

Institutions

Major Positions

Austro-Hungarian Monarchy. Heer

Soldier.

Columbia University. Department of Physics

Unofficial Researcher and Researcher in Division of War Research.

Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Berlin

Obtained PhD in Physics (1922). Assistant to Max von Laue; Privatdozent in Physics.

Manhattan Project (U.S.)

Researcher, Chicago Metallurgical Laboratory.

Salk Institute for Biological Studies

Research Fellow.

St. Bartholomew’s Hospital (London, England)

Researcher.

United States. Office of Scientific Research and Development. Metallurgical Laboratory

Researcher, Manhattan Project.

University of Chicago. Department of Physics

Professor of Biophysics.

Professional Activities & Affiliations

Budapesti Műszaki Egyetem

Studied engineering.

Clarendon Laboratory

Research Fellow.

Council for a Livable World

Co-Chair, Board of Directors.

National Academy of Sciences (U.S.)

Member.

Technische Universität Berlin

Studied Theoretical Physics.

Resources

Archival Resources

Author

Hans Eduard Suess papers, 1875-1989.

Mandeville Special Collections Library

University of California, San Diego

9500 Gilman Drive, La Jolla, CA 92093, USA

Inventor of the Atomic Bomb [sound recording], 1933.

Niels Bohr Library & Archives

American Institute of Physics

One Physics Ellipse, College Park, MD 20740, USA

J. Craig Venter Institute history of molecular biology collection, 1909-2000.

Archives.

J. Craig Venter Institute

4120 Capricorn Lane, La Jolla, CA 92037

Leo Slizard and Aaron Novick research files, 1948-1969.

Mandeville Special Collections Library

University of California, San Diego

9500 Gilman Drive, La Jolla, CA 92093, USA

Leo Szilard letters to Gertrud Weiss, 1937-1959.

Mandeville Special Collections Library

University of California, San Diego

9500 Gilman Drive, La Jolla, CA 92093, USA

Leo Szilard papers, 1898-1998.

Mandeville Special Collections Library

University of California, San Diego

9500 Gilman Drive, La Jolla, CA 92093, USA

Mike Wallace papers, 1958-1962.

Archives and Records Management

Syracuse University

E. S. Bird Library, Syracuse, NY 13244-2010, USA

Television interview with Leo Szilard by Mike Wallace [sound recording] / 1961.

Niels Bohr Library & Archives

American Institute of Physics

One Physics Ellipse, College Park, MD 20740, USA

William Lanouette collection on Leo Szilard, 1920-2006.

Mandeville Special Collections Library

University of California, San Diego

9500 Gilman Drive, La Jolla, CA 92093, USA

Subject

Atomic energy for military purposes, 1945 [typescript].

Manuscripts and Archives Department

Hagley Museum and Library

298 Buck Road East, Greenville, DE 19807, USA

Atoms for Peace Award records, 1944-1972.

Institute Archives and Special Collections

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

M.I.T. Libraries, Rm. 14N-118, Cambridge, MA 02139, USA

Bernard Feld papers, 1943-1990.

Institute Archives and Special Collections

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

M.I.T. Libraries, Rm. 14N-118, Cambridge, MA 02139, USA

Conversations with David Inglis, [videorecording] Feb.-May 1989.

Niels Bohr Library & Archives

American Institute of Physics

One Physics Ellipse, College Park, MD 20740, USA

Crawford Greenewalt Manhattan Project diary, 1942-1945.

Manuscripts and Archives Department

Hagley Museum and Library

298 Buck Road East, Greenville, DE 19807, USA

Enrico Fermi papers, 1918-1974.

The Joseph Regenstein Library. Department of Special Collections

University of Chicago

1100 East 57th Street, Chicago, IL 60637, USA

Eugene Rabinowitch papers, 1954-1964.

The Joseph Regenstein Library. Department of Special Collections

University of Chicago

1100 East 57th Street, Chicago, IL 60637, USA

Fritz London papers, 1926-1954.

Archives.

Duke University

341 Perkins Library, Duke University, Durham, NC 27706, USA

H. F. Mark autobiography, 1986.

Niels Bohr Library & Archives

American Institute of Physics

One Physics Ellipse, College Park, MD 20740, USA

Harold Clayton Urey papers, 1929-1981.

Mandeville Special Collections Library

University of California, San Diego

9500 Gilman Drive, La Jolla, CA 92093, USA

Helen S. Hawkins collection, 1974-1987.

Mandeville Special Collections Library

University of California, San Diego

9500 Gilman Drive, La Jolla, CA 92093, USA

History of atomic energy collection, 1896-1991.

Libraries. Special Collections

Oregon State University

Corvallis, OR 97331, USA

I. I. Rabi papers, 1899-1989 (bulk 1945-1968).

Manuscript Division

Library of Congress

James Madison Memorial Building, First Street and Independence Avenue SE, Washington, DC 20540, USA

Igor E. Tamm papers, 1921-1971.

contact Tamm family

In private hands

Moscow

Jerome B. Wiesner papers, 1949-1983.

Institute Archives and Special Collections

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

M.I.T. Libraries, Rm. 14N-118, Cambridge, MA 02139, USA

Joseph Edward Mayer papers, 1920-1983.

Mandeville Special Collections Library

University of California, San Diego

9500 Gilman Drive, La Jolla, CA 92093, USA

Kenneth Bainbridge correspondence with James Chadwick and Mark Oliphant, 1973-1974.

Niels Bohr Library & Archives

American Institute of Physics

One Physics Ellipse, College Park, MD 20740, USA

Lew Kowarski papers, 1907-1981 (bulk 1930-1981).

Niels Bohr Library & Archives

American Institute of Physics

One Physics Ellipse, College Park, MD 20740, USA

Lewis L. Strauss papers, 1914-1974.

Herbert Hoover Presidential Library

West Branch, IA 52358, USA

Marshall MacDuffie research materials on Leo Szilard, 1941-1964.

Rare Book and Manuscript Library

Columbia University

Butler Library, 6th Floor East, New York, NY 10027, USA

Michael Polanyi papers, 1900-1975.

The Joseph Regenstein Library. Department of Special Collections

University of Chicago

1100 East 57th Street, Chicago, IL 60637, USA

Oral history interview with Adnan Waly 1990 November 12.

Niels Bohr Library & Archives

American Institute of Physics

One Physics Ellipse, College Park, MD 20740, USA

Oral history interview with Adnan Waly, 1994 February-March.

Niels Bohr Library & Archives

American Institute of Physics

One Physics Ellipse, College Park, MD 20740, USA

Oral history interview with Aristid Victor Grosse, 1974 January 11 and April 5.

Niels Bohr Library & Archives

American Institute of Physics

One Physics Ellipse, College Park, MD 20740, USA

Oral history interview with Carl Friedrich Weizsacker, 1986 January 28.

Niels Bohr Library & Archives

American Institute of Physics

One Physics Ellipse, College Park, MD 20740, USA

Oral history interview with David Lazarus, 1981 December 4.

Niels Bohr Library & Archives

American Institute of Physics

One Physics Ellipse, College Park, MD 20740, USA

Oral history interview with Eugene Paul Wigner, 1966 November 30.

Niels Bohr Library & Archives

American Institute of Physics

One Physics Ellipse, College Park, MD 20740, USA

Oral history interview with Gregory Breit, 1975 December 8.

Niels Bohr Library & Archives

American Institute of Physics

One Physics Ellipse, College Park, MD 20740, USA

Oral history interview with Herbert Anderson, 1981 January 13 and 16.

Niels Bohr Library & Archives

American Institute of Physics

One Physics Ellipse, College Park, MD 20740, USA

Oral history interview with I. I. Rabi, 1963 December 8.

Niels Bohr Library & Archives

American Institute of Physics

One Physics Ellipse, College Park, MD 20740, USA

Oral history interview with J. Robert Oppenheimer, 1960 February.

Niels Bohr Library & Archives

American Institute of Physics

One Physics Ellipse, College Park, MD 20740, USA

Oral history interview with Lew Kowarski, 1969 March 20, October 19, 20, 21, 1970 May 3, 14, 1971 May 15 and November 20.

Niels Bohr Library & Archives

American Institute of Physics

One Physics Ellipse, College Park, MD 20740, USA

Oral history interview with Maurice Goldhaber, 1967 January 10.

Niels Bohr Library & Archives

American Institute of Physics

One Physics Ellipse, College Park, MD 20740, USA

Oral history interview with Michael Polanyi, 1962 February 15.

Niels Bohr Library & Archives

American Institute of Physics

One Physics Ellipse, College Park, MD 20740, USA

Oral history interview with Murray Gell-Mann, 1997 July 17 and 18.

Institute Archives

California Institute of Technology

1201 East California Blvd. (Mail Code 015A-74), Pasadena, CA 91125, USA

Oral history interview with Nicholas Kurti, 1968 September 11 and 1972 November 22.

Niels Bohr Library & Archives

American Institute of Physics

One Physics Ellipse, College Park, MD 20740, USA

Oral history interview with Philip Morrison, 1967 February 7.

Niels Bohr Library & Archives

American Institute of Physics

One Physics Ellipse, College Park, MD 20740, USA

Oral history interview with Philip Morrison, 2002 December 19 and 20.

Niels Bohr Library & Archives

American Institute of Physics

One Physics Ellipse, College Park, MD 20740, USA

Oral history interview with Richard Garwin, 2012 December 20.

Niels Bohr Library & Archives

American Institute of Physics

One Physics Ellipse, College Park, MD 20740, USA

Oral history interview with Robert Dickson Hill, 2000 July 3.

Niels Bohr Library & Archives

American Institute of Physics

One Physics Ellipse, College Park, MD 20740, USA

Oral history interview with Robert Joseph Maurer, 1981 March 10 and 15.

Niels Bohr Library & Archives

American Institute of Physics

One Physics Ellipse, College Park, MD 20740, USA

Oral history interview with Victor Frederick Weisskopf, 1975 January 31.

Niels Bohr Library & Archives

American Institute of Physics

One Physics Ellipse, College Park, MD 20740, USA

Philip Morse papers, 1927-1980.

Institute Archives and Special Collections

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

M.I.T. Libraries, Rm. 14N-118, Cambridge, MA 02139, USA

Physical Review records, 1940-1947.

Manuscript Division

Library of Congress

James Madison Memorial Building, First Street and Independence Avenue SE, Washington, DC 20540, USA

Progress: Autobiography of Joseph S. Levinger, 2010.

Niels Bohr Library & Archives

American Institute of Physics

One Physics Ellipse, College Park, MD 20740, USA

The Many Worlds of Leo Szilard [sound recording], 2014 April 7.

Niels Bohr Library & Archives

American Institute of Physics

One Physics Ellipse, College Park, MD 20740, USA

Published Resources

Author

Leo Szilard, his version of the facts : selected recollections and correspondence / edited by Spencer R. Weart and Gertrud Weiss Szilard.

The collected works of Leo Szilard. Bernard T. Feld and Gertrud Weiss Szilard, editors, with Kathleen R. Winsor. Foreword by Jacques Monod. Introductory essays: Carl Eckart [and others]

The voice of the dolphins, and other stories.

Toward a livable world : Leo Szilard and the crusade for nuclear arms control / edited by Helen S. Hawkins, G. Allen Greb, Gertrud Weiss Szilard.

Subject

"Ever Ready to Go: The Multiple Exiles of Leo Szilard," Physics in Perspective 7 (2005): 204-252

"Fermi, Szilard and Trinity," Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists October (1974): 40-47.

"Ideas by Szilard, Physics by Fermi," Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists 48 (1992): 16-23

"Leo Szilard, Scientist for All Seasons," Social Research 51 (1984): 675-690

"Leo Szilard: 1898-1964", Biographical Memoirs of the National Academy of Sciences

"Leo Szilard: Giving Peace a Chance in the Nuclear Age," Physics Today 40 (1987): 40-47

"Peace through Cooperative Diplomacy: Leo Szilard's Vision of a Superpower Duopoly," in Realism, Utopia, and the Mushroom Cloud: Four Activist Intellectuals and Their Strategies for Peace, ed. Michael Bess (Chicago: University of Chicago Press: 1993), 41-90

"The Einstein-Szilard Refrigerators," Scientific American 276 (1997): 9-13

"The Legacy of Fermi and Szilard," Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists September (1974): 56-62.

Doomsday men : the real Dr. Strangelove and the dream of the superweapon / P.D. Smith.

Genius in the shadows :a biography of Leo Szilard : the man behind the bomb / William Lanouette with Bela Silard ; foreword by Jonas Salk.

Leo Szilard : science as a mode of being / David A. Grandy.

Leo Szilard Physics Today obituary.

The Martians of Science : five physicists who changed the twentieth century / István Hargittai.

The presentation of the Atoms for Peace Award to Leo Szilard, Eugene Paul Wigner, Alvin Martin Weinberg, Walter Henry Zinn at the National Academy of Sciences, Washington, D.C., May 18, 1960.