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A student of such famed physicists as Albert Einstein and Max Planck, Leo Szilard was key in getting the United States to work on the atomic bomb.
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With the Nazis trying to take over Europe, they were concerned about what would happen if the Germans developed the bomb first.
To this end, Szilard became a part of the famed Manhattan Project, which sought to transform atomic energy for military purposes. He conducted research at the University of Chicago from 1942 to 1945. There, Szilard worked with Enrico Fermi to build the first nuclear reactor.
Forever changed by seeing the destructive force of the atomic bomb, Szilard joined the Emergency Committee of Atomic Scientists. This international organization wanted to prevent further military use of atomic energy. For the rest of his life, Szilard worked on nuclear safety and arms control. He started the Council for a Livable World in 1962, which is still dedicated to reducing the threat posed by nuclear weapons.
Leo Szilard died on May 30, 1964, in La Jolla, California.
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