06 August 2004

Hiroshima, Streetcars, and Edward Teller

On this day every year, those who remember will think of the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum.

But Hiroshima also has a lesser-known museum that celebrates construction rather than destruction, the Hiroshima City Transportation Museum, with its famous streetcar collection, thanks to Hiroshima Dentetsu (Hiroshima Electric Railway Company). Hiroshima, the home of Hiroden, is one of the few Japanese cities that still have streetcars running--and Hiroden still operates them, including the new Green Mover car from Germany. Like San Francisco, Hiroshima has salvaged rolling stock from all over the country, so that citizens can ride museum exhibits around the city.
The popular cars have a mixed parentage--some were inherited from the Kansai district and some came from Hannover and Dortmund in Germany. The company ... operates what has become one of Japan's busiest tramways. The light rail line takes passengers to the ferry to Miyajima Island where Itsukushima Shrine is located, and provides through connections on the urban tram network, offering convenient transit for some suburban residents.
By curious coincidence, H-bomb pioneer Dr. Edward Teller lost his right foot to a German streetcar in the 1920s.
In 1926, he left Budapest to study chemical engineering in Germany.... It took Dr. Teller only two years to become captivated by quantum mechanics, a field then revolutionizing nuclear physics. It commanded his attention at the University of Munich. While in Munich, Dr. Teller lost his right foot in a streetcar accident, but that barely affected his studies. Moving on to the University of Leipzig, Dr. Teller worked with Werner Heisenberg, a giant of 20th-century physics, and received his doctorate in 1930.

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