Leo Szilard

(1898–1964)

Leo Szilard

Anecdote...

On one occasion, Szilard was discussing with his colleague Enrico Fermi the possibility of the existence of other life in the cosmos. Fermi held forth on the vastness of the universe, the likelihood that stars other than the sun would have planetary systems, the aeons of time that would enable life to emerge on some of these planets, and the probability that intelligent beings not only would exist elsewhere in the universe but would be capable of traveling to our own earth. “If all this has been happening,” concluded Fermi, “how is it that they have not arrived? Where are they?”

“They are already among us,” replied Szilard, “but they call themselves Hungarians.”

Biographical Note: 

Leo Szilard was a Hungarian-born U.S. physicist. After leaving Hungary he worked first in England, emigrating to the United States in 1937. With his fellow-Hungarian Edward Teller he persuaded Albert Einstein to write to President Roosevelt, warning him of the possibility that Germany might make an atom bomb first.

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Find out more about Leo Szilard — he really did lead an interesting life.