Stirling Colgate

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Stirling Colgate (born 1925) is an American physicist at Los Alamos National Laboratory and a professor emeritus of physics at the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology (New Mexico Tech). He was America's premier diagnostician of thermonuclear weapons during the early years at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California. While much of his involvement with physics had been highly classified, he has made many contributions in the open literature including physics education and astrophysics.

Early Life and Education

Colgate attended Los Alamos Ranch School until 1942 when a military delegation along with input from Robert Oppenheimer and Ernest O. Lawrence decided to close the school. Colgate and others in the class were then graduated without notice. The following year he attended Cornell University to study electric engineering.

In 1944 Colgate enlisted in the merchant marine. After Hiroshima, the captain called upon him to "tell us what it means." At that time what he explained was strictly confidential, most of all the description of nuclear fission.

After being discharged in 1946, Colgate returned to Cornell University. He then completed a Bachelor of Science and a PhD in nuclear physics, taking up a position as postdoctoral fellow at Berkeley.

The Development of the Hydrogen Bomb

In 1952 he moved to Livermore National Laboratory. The laboratory had been recently created by Edward Teller with encouragement from the United States Air Force...
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