Physicist Dr. Edward Teller speaks on Kauai

Hungarian-American theoretical physicist Dr. Edward Teller (1908-2003) is perhaps best known for creating a hydrogen bomb design in 1951 with Polish-American mathematician Stanislaw Ulam that led to the explosion, by the United States, of the first thermo-nuclear device on Enewetak Atoll in 1952.

On Saturday, July 23, 1966, he spoke to concerned Kauai residents about nuclear war and civil defense at the Kauai Surf Hotel on Kalapaki Bay.

Teller began his talk by saying that missile defense and civil defense against a nuclear attack were essential to the safety and existence of the United States.

He went on to say that in case of nuclear war, no one could be completely safe, yet everyone could be as safe as humanly possible.

Oahu would be the likely Hawaiian target, but given the distance between Oahu and Kauai, there would be little danger to the Garden Island if an atomic bomb were detonated, say, at Pearl Harbor.

It would be “extremely unlikely,” Teller emphasized, that atomic bombs would be dropped on Kauai, yet if a bomb did strike Kauai, the immediate effects would be shock and fire.

The mountains that isolate Kauai in two sections, explained Teller, would shield one section, or the other.

Teller predicted, however, that the entire island would receive radioactive fallout. Those seeking protection in fallout shelters would minimize the effects of radioactivity and increase their chances for survival.

Due to the dangers of atomic radiation, Teller advised his audience that people should stay in their fallout shelters for two weeks. Thereafter, he stated they must spend as much time in their shelters as possible.

Teller advocated that the United States government spend money to develop a missile defense that could stop bombs 5 miles above the Earth’s surface.

In closing, Dr. Teller commended the Hawaii Civil Defense as being the best in the entire United States.

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