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Leo Szilard (1898 – 1964)


Hungarian-American physicist, and probably the first scientist to take seriously the idea of actually developing atomic bombs; he drafted the famous letter sent by Albert Einstein to U S President Franklin Delano Roosevelt that was largely responsible for initiating the Manhattan Project to develop nuclear weapons during World War II.
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Leo Szilard
It is not necessary to succeed in order to persevere. As long as there is a margin of hope, however narrow, we have no choice but to base all our actions on that margin. America and Russia have one interest in common which may override all their other interests: to be able to live with the bomb without getting into an all-out war that neither of them wants.
Szilard quotes
Even if we accept, as the basic tenet of true democracy, that one moron is equal to one genius, is it necessary to go a further step and hold that two morons are better than one genius?
Szilard
Science is progressing at such a rapid rate that when you make a prediction and think you are ahead of your time by 100 years you may be ahead of your time by 10 at most.




Szilard Leo quotes
A great power imposes the obligation of exercising restraint, and we did not live up to this obligation. I think this affected many of the scientists in a subtle sense, and it diminished their desire to continue to work on the bomb.
Szilard Leo
We turned the switch, saw the flashes, watched for ten minutes, then switched everything off and went home. That night I knew the world was headed for sorrow.
Leo Szilard quotes
I had not been long back from Hiroshima when I heard someone say, in Szilárd's presence; that it was the tragedy of scientists that their discoveries were used for destruction. Szilárd replied, as he more than anyone else had the right to reply; that it was not the tragedy of scientists, it is the tragedy of mankind.
Leo Szilard
Even in times of war, you can see current events in their historical perspective, provided that your passion for the truth prevails over your bias in favor of your own nation.
Szilard Leo quotes
A man's clarity of judgment is never very good when you're involved, and as you grow older, and as you grow more involved, your clarity of judgment suffers.
Szilard
I sometimes have the feeling that I have lived through all this before and, in a sense, I have. I was sixteen years old when the first World War broke out, and I lived at that time in Hungary. From reading the newspapers in Hungary, it would have appeared that, whatever Austria and Germany did was right and whatever England, France, Russia, or America did was wrong. A good case could be made out for this general thesis, in almost every single instance. It would have been difficult for me to prove, in any single instance, that the newspapers were wrong, but somehow, it seemed to me unlikely that the two nations located in the center of Europe should be invariably right, and that all the other nations should be invariably wrong. History, I reasoned, would hardly operate in such a peculiar fashion, and it didn't take long until I began to hold views which were diametrically opposed to those held by the majority of my schoolmates.
Szilard Leo
In life you must often choose between getting a job done or getting credit for it. In science, the most important thing is not the ideas you have but the decision which ones you choose to pursue. If you have an idea and are not doing anything with it, why spoil someone else's fun by publishing it?
Leo Szilard
I'm looking for a market for wisdom.




Leo Szilard quotes
A scientist's aim in a discussion with his colleagues is not to persuade, but to clarify.
Leo Szilard
All we had to do was lean back, turn a switch and watch a screen of a television tube. If flashes of light appeared on the screen it would mean that liberation of atomic energy would take place in our lifetime. We turned the switch, saw the flashes — we watched for about five minutes — then switched everything off and went home. That night I knew the world was headed for trouble.
Szilard quotes
The most important step in getting a job done is the recognition of the problem. Once I recognize a problem I usually can think of someone who can work it out better than I could.
Szilard Leo
Suppose Germany had developed two bombs before we had any bombs. And suppose Germany had dropped one bomb, say, on Rochester and the other on Buffalo, and then having run out of bombs she would have lost the war. Can anyone doubt that we would then have defined the dropping of atomic bombs on cities as a war crime, and that we would have sentenced the Germans who were guilty of this crime to death at Nuremberg and hanged them?
But, again, don't misunderstand me. The only conclusion we can draw is that governments acting in a crisis are guided by questions of expediency, and moral considerations are given very little weight, and that America is no different from any other nation in this respect.
Szilard Leo quotes
In order to succeed it is not necessary to be much cleverer than other people. All you have to do is be one day ahead of them.
Leo Szilard
The people who have sufficient passion for the truth to give the truth a chance to prevail, if it runs counter to their bias, are in a minority. How important is this "minority?" It is difficult to say at this point, for, at the present time their influence on governmental decisions is not perceptible.
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