Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Edward Teller, Genius, Safety. Emil Artin (mathematician) on course loads, and insisting on teaching freshman calculus

 From Dyson's Biographical Memoir of Edward Teller for the National Academy of Sciences
If you want a genius for your staff, don't take Teller, get Gamow. But geniuses are a dime a dozen. Teller is something much better. He helps everybody. He works on everybody's problems. He never gets into controversies or has trouble with anyone. [Tuve's letter of reference to Chicago for Teller]

A much larger fraction of Livermore bomb tests failed [than those at Los Alamos], but Teller considered failed tests as a badge of honor...

Safety must be guaranteed by the laws of nature and not by engineered safeguards. [Teller on reactor design.]
From Bulletin of the AMS, vol 50,#2. Emil Artin was one of the great mathematicians of the 20th century.

While at Indiana, Artin taught three classes each semester plus the graduate seminar, which he held on Monday or Tuesday evenings, depending on the term. He taught across the mathematics curriculum. In the fall of 1940, for example, Artin taught8 • Math 210a, Advanced Calculus, • Math 357a, Relativity, • Math 334a, Algebra and Number Theory, • Math 322, Graduate Seminar. In the spring of 1945, he taught • Math 103a, Trigonometry, • Math 210b, Advanced Calculus, • Math 213, Differential Equations, • Math 322, Graduate Seminar.

Later at Princeton: Indeed, Artin initially declined the position because “the Fine Chair does no teaching. I will not give up my freshman calculus course and so I must respectfully decline the honor.” Apparently Tucker consulted with university lawyers about the exact terms of the Fine endowment and they determined that voluntary teaching was permissible. With that issue resolved, Artin accepted the Fine Chair.

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