Interesting quotes by Leo Szilard

If you want to succeed in the world, you don’t have to be much cleverer than other people. You just have to be one day earlier.

If one knows only what one is told, one does not know enough to be able to arrive at a well-balanced decision.

Don’t lie if you don’t have to.

Three stages of truth for scientists: (1) It’s not true. (2) If it is true, it’s not very important.(3) We knew it all along.

I’m all in favor of the democratic principle that one idiot is as good as one genius, but I draw the line when someone takes the next step and concludes that two idiots are better than one genius.



A brief biography of Leo Szilard

Leo Szilard was born Leo Spitz on February 11, 1898 in Budapest, Hungary. He was a Hungarian-American inventor and physicist. Szilard made many accomplishments in his field, notably his patented idea of a nuclear fission reactor after discovering the nuclear chain reaction in 1933.

In 1939, Szilard wrote the letter to President Franklin Roosevelt that Albert Einstein signed (The Einstein-Szilard Letter) in regard to the United States starting their own nuclear program. The letter was written as a warning that Germany might have been in the works with developing their own atomic bombs. After receiving the letter, Roosevelt sent a reply to Einstein: “I found this data of such import that I have convened a Board consisting of the head of the Bureau of Standards and a chosen representative of the Army and Navy to thoroughly investigate the possibilities of your suggestion regarding the element of uranium.” This is how the Manhattan Project started and utimately the first atomic bomb was built. On March 25, 1945, Szilard composed a fourth letter for Einstein to sign with an urgent message for President Roosevelt to have a meeting with Szilard to have a discussion on nuclear research and the policy on nuclear energy. However, President Roosevelt died before he received the letter.

In 1960, Szilard was informed he had bladder cancer. He received treatment at New York’s Memorial Sloan-Kettering Hospital. The treatment was cobalt therapy and his doctor gave him free reign over the treatment. Szilard eventually gave himself a high dose and it was proven to be effective after two years of treating the cancer. His cancer never reappeared.

After recovering, Szilard continued to work. He was a fellow and founder of the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in San Diego, California and was also a founder of the Council for a Livable World in 1962. He would go on to deliver lectures about nuclear weapons to the American people via Congress and the White House.

Leo Szilard died on May 30, 1964 in San Diego, California. He had a heart attack during his sleep and was later cremated.


Works by Leo Szilard

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