Profile: Infamy and Honor at the Atomic Café; October 1999; Scientific American Magazine; by Stix; 2 Page(s)
As I'm leaving for John F. Kennedy airport, I tell a colleague that I will be away to interview Edward Teller. "Is he still alive?" she asks in amazement. A day later I sit across the room from a 91-year-old man slumped in his desk chair, his five-foot-high carved wooden walking stick leaning against a desk that has a Ronald Reagan-awarded National Medal of Science hanging above it.
With eyes clouded by ulceration, he stares straight ahead. What may have been the world's bushiest eyebrows have thinned. A cowboy boot covers the prosthesis that replaced the foot he lost in a streetcar accident in 1928. His secretary informs me that his memory of recent events has faded in the wake of a stroke. I wonder if he even sees me or whether I will be able to proceed with the interview.