Edward Teller understood

Robert Cowen's sad tale about Edward Teller's ostracism and rough treatment by his scientific colleagues fails to supply the context that is necessary to understand what happened to him ("A long-ago moment with Edward Teller," Sept. 12). What is very often overlooked by those who deplore the harassment of Communist sympathizers is that the passions of the time were such that anti-Communists like Edward Teller suffered as much from personal and professional attacks as Communist sympathizers, but never commanded the sympathy they deserved for being victims of "reverse McCarthyism."

For example, in the '60s the economics department at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville was dominated by students of conservative economist Milton Friedman, and it was brutally shredded by a liberal academic administration. Among those scattered were two future Nobel Prize winners, James Buchanan and Ronald Coase. A very small percentage of academic faculty are registered Republicans. The ultraliberal political stand of academics is a fact of life. Teller had the misfortune to be a lightning rod for the passions of the left, but he was part of our sociopolitical history, not a unique exception.
Lawrence Cranberg, physicist
Austin, Texas

I was on the board of directors of the Association to Unite the Democracies (AUD) with Edward Teller. He was best known as the "Father of the H-Bomb," but he preferred to be remembered as the president of the Livermore Laboratory. With the H-bomb, he had let the genie out of the bottle, and he desperately wanted to return it to its bottle. He felt the best way would be to unite the democracies so they would be so strong that no nation would dare attack any one of them.

He envisioned that other nations, seeing the benefits of belonging to the democratic union, would throw off their dictators, democratize, and join the union. Eventually, the world would be totally democratized and there would be no necessity for nuclear bombs. War between nations would be eliminated. He will be remembered through the ages, and AUD will miss him.
Capt. Tom Hudgens, Board Chairman, AUD
Cherry Hills Village, Colo.

Corn plastics: not cream of the crop

I'm glad for the coverage of a promising technology, but your Sept. 4 article "A new corn-based plastic disappears into the dirt" makes crop-based plastics sound much more environmentally friendly than they really are. While they can be composted as described, studies show that most such products in fact end up in landfills, where (as the article noted correctly) they last just as long as petroleum-based plastics.

We also must remember that crops like corn are not environmentally cost-free. Soil erosion, pesticide use, and the high-energy cost of fertilizers are among the factors that significantly reduce the "greenness" of crop-based plastics, even when those plastics are recycled as intended.
Robin Mittenthal
Urbana, Ill.

RIAA will ultimately face the music

Regarding your Sept. 10 article "As music adapts, consumers win": Good article. I find preposterous the way the Recording Industry Association of America is going after people. This is simply going to provoke new ways of swapping, and greatly decrease record sales. There are several groups that are boycotting the purchase of albums - that refuse to give another red cent to the record companies. So whoever at RIAA decided to sue will feel it where it hurts the most: the pocketbook.
Robb Chappa
Parker, Colo.

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