Q: So tell me about the creation of a second Soviet scientific team to work
on the design of a thermonuclear bomb.
DH: [Igor] Kurchatov as the scientific director of the project, is I think
largely responsible for the choice of the new group, and what he does is to
bring in people who have not been involved in the atomic project. And he turns
to Igor Tamm who was a very well-known physicist at the Physics Institute Of
The Academy Of Sciences in Moscow. And Tamm involves some of his own students
in this work, including Andrei Sakharov. So a small group is set up to
investigate...the Soviet work that has been going on up to that point, not to
investigate the intelligence material.
The reason that this group is so important is that they come very quickly to
the conclusion that what the existing Soviet group headed by [Iakov] Zel'dovich
had been doing was leading nowhere. And they come -- Sakharov comes up with an
idea for a different kind of design for the thermonuclear bomb, the so called
"Layer Cake", or sloika in Russian. And [Vitalii] Ginzburg comes up
with his own idea which is important which is that they can use lithium
deuteride as a fuel in the bomb. And so these two ideas at the end of '48, and
early '49, immediately make it clear that they have the makings of a workable
design for a thermonuclear bomb.
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