By, July 23, 2017 

MANY PEOPLE KNOW that work on nuclear weapons enabled the development of the first electronic computers. But it’s no less true that the humble refrigerator, in a roundabout way, enabled the development of the first atom bomb.

While reading the newspaper one morning in 1926, Albert Einstein nearly choked on his eggs. An entire family in Berlin, including several children, had suffocated a few nights before when a seal on their refrigerator broke and toxic gas flooded their apartment. Anguished, the forty-seven-year-old physicist called up a young friend of his, the inventor and scientist Leo Szilard. “There must be a better way,” Einstein pleaded.

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