Lost Women of Science Podcast, Season 2: Episode One - The Grasshopper

Thu, 31 Mar 2022 06:00:00 GMT
Scientific American - Technology

Before she entered a world of secrecy, computers and nuclear weapons, who was Klára von Neumann

KATIE HAFNER: At Klari's family home in Budapest, there was a constant flow of celebrated figures in and out.

KATIE HAFNER: Klari was self-deprecating to a fault.

KLARA VON NEUMANN: I was most frightfully in love, the grandiose flinging of the last chip on the table seemed to me the most manly and elegant gestureuntil one day it dawned on me that those colored chips were just about all the money we had. KATIE HAFNER: Even Klari, a fan of spontaneity and whimsy, was growing increasingly frustrated by her marriage.

I'm Katie Hafner and this is Lost Women of Science.

AD BREAK. KATIE HAFNER: Klari's chance meeting with Johnny at Monte Carlo had ripple effects that spanned an ocean.

KATIE HAFNER: While Johnny had been in Princeton, Klari had kept herself busy in Budapest.

Klari's own files are largely subsumed by her husband's, and four of us spent the better part of a week there, looking for anything we could find in Klari's tall sloping hand.

KATIE HAFNER: In 1938, a few months after Klari's 27th birthday, Klari and Johnny got married.

KATIE HAFNER: Johnny's letters suggest that Klari's father dragged his feet in leaving Budapest, and that he wanted Klari to see to some important matters-perhaps liquidating some assets, or selling off property.

KATIE HAFNER: So as war broke out in Europe, Klari was sailing towards her new life in the United States.

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