Oral History Interviews

Interviews that offer unique insights into the lives, works, and personalities of modern scientists

Ralph Alpher remembers his teacher Edward Teller.

Oral history audio excerpt

Ralph Alpher remembers his teacher Edward Teller.

Harwit:

Did you have any physics teachers there that you remember?

Alpher:

Well, the most impressive one I had right from the start was Edward Teller.

Harwit:

I didn't realize he was there at the time.

Alpher:

He was indeed. I can still visualize him striding into the freshman physics course one night, the first night of its meeting, making a very profound statement; namely, that one of his jobs… he had two jobs… one was to teach physics to those who wanted to learn physics and the other was to get rid of the overpopulation of pre-med students, the usual function of either physics or math courses.

Harwit:

What did he teach?

Alpher:

Well, at that time he taught freshman physics, and later on I took a course in what was called atomic and molecular physics from him. I guess those were the only two I took from him — freshman physics and atomic and molecular physics.