Leo Szilard
Historical Figure
Nationality: United States (born in Hungary)
Date of Birth: 1898
Date of Death: 1964
Cause of Death: Heart attack
Religion: Judaism
Occupation: Physicist
Professional Affiliations: Manhattan Project
Turtledove Appearances:
POD: May 30, 1942
Appearance(s): In the Balance
Striking the Balance
Type of Appearance: Direct
Joe Steele
POD: 1878;
Relevant POD: July, 1932
Novel or Story?: Both
Type of Appearance: Contemporary reference
Date of Death: 1946
Cause of Death: Execution by firing squad
Leó Szilárd (February 11, 1898 – May 30, 1964) was a Hungarian physicist and inventor who conceived the nuclear chain reaction in 1933, patented the idea of a nuclear reactor with Enrico Fermi, and in late 1939 wrote the letter for Albert Einstein's signature that resulted in the Manhattan Project that built the atomic bomb. He also conceived the electron microscope, the linear accelerator (1928, not knowing Gustav Isings 1924 journal article and Rolf Widerøe's operational device) and the cyclotron. Szilárd himself did not build all of these devices, or publish these ideas in scientific journals, and so their credit often went to others. As a result, Szilárd never received the Nobel Prize, but two of his inventions did.

Szilard died in California.

Leo Szilard in WorldwarEdit

Leo Szilard was attached to the Metallurgical Laboratory at the University of Chicago when the Race's Conquest Fleet invaded Earth in 1942.[1] When it became clear that the Race was moving on Chicago, Szilard suggested to his colleagues that one of them travel to Washington, DC to urge the US government to make the protection of Chicago its highest priority. Jens Larssen (who reflected that Szilard's name was an anagram of the nickname in vogue for the Race, "Lizards") was selected for this duty.[2]

When Chicago was evacuated ahead of an advancing Race army, Szilard and the rest of the physicists working on the project traveled across much of the US to Denver,[3] where they resumed work on the project. It was here that Szilard and his fellow scientists completed work on the atomic pile,[4] and the first U.S.-built atomic bomb, the Fat Lady.[5]

Leo Szilard in Joe SteeleEdit

Leo Szilard (1898-1946) was one of several "wreckers" accused of being part of the "Professors' Plot" to deny the United States the atomic bomb. On the orders of President Joe Steele, Szilard was arrested and executed in 1946.

Literary CommentEdit

While Szilard is executed in both versions, the Professors' Plot is named only in the short story.


  1. In the Balance, pg. 93.
  2. Ibid., pgs 94-96.
  3. See, Tilting the Balance, generally
  4. Ibid., pgs. 345-347.
  5. Upsetting the Balance, pgs. 410.