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David Holloway on: The Second Soviet Scientific Team
David Holloway 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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