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Home > Dictionary of Science Quotations > Scientist Names Index D > Frederic de Hoffmann Quotes

Frederic de Hoffmann
(8 Jul 1925 - 4 Oct 1989)

Austrian-American nuclear physicist who joined the Manhattan Project at age 20 in 1944, and became a close associate of Edward Teller in the development of the “super” (hydrogen) bomb. By 1955, he was the first president of General Atomic, involved in the manufacture of nuclear reactors for peaceful energy production.

Science Quotes by Frederic de Hoffmann (1 quote)

Edward [Teller] isn’t the cloistered kind of scientist. He gets his ideas in conversation and develops them by trying them out on people. We were coming back from Europe on the Ile de France and I was standing in the ship’s nightclub when he came up and said, 'Freddie, I think I have an idea.’ It was something he’d just thought of about magnetohydrodynamics. I was a bachelor then and I’d located several good-looking girls on the ship, but I knew what I had to do, so I disappeared and started working on the calculations. I’d get something finished and start prowling on the deck again when Edward would turn up out of the night and we’d walk the deck together while he talked and I was the brick wall he was bouncing these things off of. By the end of the trip we had a paper. He’d had the ideas, and I’d done some solving of equations. But he insisted that we sign in alphabetical order, which put my name first.
— Frederic de Hoffmann
As quoted in Robert Coughlan, 'Dr. Edward Teller’s Magnificent Obsession', Life (6 Sep 1954), 61-62.
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Carl Sagan Thumbnail In science it often happens that scientists say, 'You know that's a really good argument; my position is mistaken,' and then they would actually change their minds and you never hear that old view from them again. They really do it. It doesn't happen as often as it should, because scientists are human and change is sometimes painful. But it happens every day. I cannot recall the last time something like that happened in politics or religion. (1987) -- Carl Sagan
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