Ted Taylor was born in 1925 in Mexico City, Mexico. During WWII, from 1943-1946, he served on active duty in the United States Navy. He then received a bachelor's degree from the California Institute of Technology in 1945, pursued a master's degree from the University of California Berkeley, and later received a Ph.D. in theoretical physics from Cornell University in 1954.
From 1948-1956, Taylor worked at the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico. In that time, Taylor designed fission bombs of minimal size and maximal explosion capacity. In 1956, he left Los Alamos and moved to General Atomics, where he directed Project Orion, whose mission was to develop a nuclear-powered interplanetary spacecraft.
In 1964, Taylor began work for the Defense Department and was the deputy director of the Defense Atomic Support Agency. There, he discovered how his knowledge of the dangerous bombs he developed at Los Alamos had real-world implications. In 1980, Taylor started Nova Inc., which sought to develop alternatives to nuclear energy.
In 1965 was the recipient of the Ernest Orlando Lawrence Award for the development, use, or control of nuclear energy, awarded by the U.S. Atomic Energy Agency (now the U.S. Department of Energy). He worried about the dangers of small nuclear weapons of the type he had created falling into the wrong hands, however, and became deeply concerned about his country’s readiness to use nuclear weapons. In the last years of his life, he wrote and lectured passionately against U.S. nuclear policy.
Beginning in 1966 he advocated nuclear disarmament and worked as a consultant to the United States Atomic Energy Commission from 1966 to 1968 evaluating the International Atomic Energy Agency in regard to nuclear non-proliferation. He worked as a visiting professor at the University of California, Santa Cruz and Princeton University; in addition to nuclear proliferation, a topic on which he wrote several books, he studied renewable energy and energy conservation, including ice pond technology.
"It's all too easy for a madman, a terrorist or a criminal to build his own atomic bomb," Taylor said in 1972. "I've been worried about it ever since I made my first one."
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