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Achieving the rare : Robert F. Christy's journey in physics and beyond

Author: I -Juliana Christy; World Scientific (Firm)
Publisher: Singapore ; Hackensack, N.J. : World Scientific Pub. Co., ©2013.
Edition/Format:   eBook : Document : Biography : EnglishView all editions and formats
Summary:
Robert F. Christy was a fascinating physicist who was one of the key players in some of the most dramatic events of the 20th century. He was one of Oppenheimer's students, whom Oppenheimer hailed as "one of the best in the world". He was a co-creator of the world's first nuclear reactor and the first atom bombs, of which the most practical design was called the "Christy Gadget". Later, he became a leader in the  Read more...
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Genre/Form: Electronic books
Biography
History
Named Person: Robert F Christy; Robert F Christy
Material Type: Biography, Document, Internet resource
Document Type: Internet Resource, Computer File
All Authors / Contributors: I -Juliana Christy; World Scientific (Firm)
ISBN: 9789814460255 9814460257
OCLC Number: 860387696
Notes: Includes index.
Description: 1 online resource (xv, 349 pages) : illustrations (some color), portraits
Contents: Ch. 1. His childhood. The origin of Robert's names. The sinking of the Titanic. Marriage of Moise and Hattie (Robert's parents). Death of Robert's father. Robert's early years. No more gambling. Death of Robert's mother. Early interests. Academic successes --
ch. 2. The formative UBC years. Robert's social life at UBC. Summer jobs while at UBC. Moving on from UBC --
ch. 3. Exciting graduate years with Oppenheimer. Becoming part of the birth of particle physics. Robert's years at Berkeley in his own words --
ch. 4. The first marriage, to Dagmar von Lieven. Robert's parenting of his sons Ted and Peter. Robert's memories of his sons. Ted and Peter in college and as adults. An unusually amicable divorce --
ch. 5. The very first nuclear reactor. An unfulfilling job teaching at Illinois Tech in 1941. Background: the discovery of nuclear fission in Germany. Origin of the German nuclear project. Origin of the U.S. nuclear project. The early British nuclear project. The Manhattan project begins. Robert joins the project. The creation of the first nuclear reactor, Chicago Pile-1. Founding of the Hanford reactors. Founding of the Argonne reactors. Robert's friendship with Fermi. The fizzling of the Nazi nuclear project. The 1962 White House reception commemorating Chicago Pile-1 --
ch. 6. Designing the first atomic bomb. Robert's arrival at Los Alamos in early 1943. Robert's bosses at Los Alamos: Peierls, Bethe, Oppenheimer, and Groves. The spy Klaus Fuchs. Robert's "instant fame" from his "water boiler" reactor calculations. The one-dollar patents at Los Alamos. Understanding large explosions such as the volcano Krakatoa. Robert's work on the implosion bomb: the "Christy Gadget". Why the "Christy Gadget" and not the "Christy Bomb"? The trinity test for the implosion design. First attempts to prevent the actual use of atomic bombs. Firebombing vs. atomic bombs. Groves' motivation for dropping the bombs. The use of the two atomic bombs. After the war had ended. Robert's memories of his colleagues at Los Alamos. Robert's memories of visitors von Neumann and Bohr. Recreational activities at Los Alamos. The patent for the "water boiler" reactor. A 1991 package of declassified information on the "water boiler" reactor. A retrospective article in the Pasadena Star-News. Ch. 7. Opposing nuclear weapons proliferation. Robert's view of the "Christy Gadget". The Association of Los Alamos Scientists. The Oppenheimer trial. The Teller handshake incident. Security interview of Robert in 1955, regarding communism. The 1963 Enrico Fermi Award for Oppenheimer. Working towards an atmospheric test ban. The Los Angeles Times gamble. Robert discovers the cause of mysterious communication failures. Robert's work towards initiating the SALT talks. Robert's opposition to higher-tech weapons in the Vietnam War --
ch. 8. Becoming Oppenheimer's successor at Caltech. Working with Fermi in Chicago, and co-habiting with Teller. Leaving for Caltech. Early life at Caltech. Large numbers of graduate students. Robert's cosmic ray work. The growing mistakes paper. Discovery of which nuclear reactions actually power the sun. Lee DuBridge and Bob Bacher. Luring Feynman to Caltech. The Vista Project at Caltech: the defense of Western Europe. Robert's work as a consultant --
ch. 9. Contributions to physics at Caltech. The necktie story of R.F. Christy. The Orion spacecraft project --
ch. 10. Pioneering work in astrophysics: variable stars. Robert's first sabbatical --
with Oppenheimer at Princeton. Back at Caltech: diving into astrophysics. Election to the National Academy of Sciences and the Eddington Medal. Starting to travel, late in life. A brief second sabbatical, at Cambridge in England. Robert's last stellar pulsation meeting: Santa Fe in 2009 --
ch. 11. As Provost: achieving his dreams for Caltech. Executive Officer for Physics and Chairman of the Faculty. Vice president and Provost. Broadening Caltech's focus: humanities and economics. Bringing Caltech back into the black financially. New young faculty and productive older faculty. The Jenijoy La Belle court case. Classified research at the jet propulsion laboratory. Opposing the strategic defense initiative ("Star Wars"). Student unrest at Caltech. The first women undergraduate students. Women faculty at Caltech, and elimination of Caltech's nepotism rule. At Nixon's "Western White House". Advising on science in Israel and Egypt. Hazards associated with nuclear energy --
ch. 12. The second marriage, to I.-Juliana Sackmann. Background of Inge-Juliana Sackmann. Hearing the Christy name for the first time. A brief encounter with Robert Christy. Engagement to Peter Biermann for a year. A second encounter with Robert Christy. A romance begins. A difficult struggle --
6,000 miles and 26 years apart. Robert's visit to me in Europe: Christmas 1970. Juliana visits Pasadena, and takes a two-year position there. Robert's issues: together but not together. Figuring out what was best for him. A verbal marriage contract. A happy marriage. Ch. 13. Daughters late in life. Skiing, horses, gymnastics, tennis, and polo. Travels near and far. The daughters' professions. Illustrations of the equestrian accomplishments of Robert's daughters --
ch. 14. Interim president of Caltech. Removing a road that divided Caltech. Preservation of Caltech's architecture and gardens. New buildings for Caltech. Juliana as Caltech's first lady. The Keck telescope. Caltech's oriental rugs and other art treasures. Cutting administrative expenses, and a new source of funds. Offers of presidencies from other universities. Juliana's choice. The actor in the acting president. A trip to red China. The Goldberger presidency. The trustees' reaction to Robert's departure from administration --
ch. 15. Later years --
teaching and research. Robert's titled professorship. Robert's retirement from teaching. Robert's "retirement" dinner: still amazingly young at age 70. Inertial-confinement fusion. A consultant for the history he had witnessed --
ch. 16. Radiation dosimetry in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. History and purpose of the project. Robert joins the project. The break-up of the U.S.-Japan collaboration. Robert's description of the project --
ch. 17. The Spring Valley ranch: fulfilling a dream --
ch. 18. Robert's health --
struggles and successes. Vision problems. Loss of a kidney. Intestinal surgery for adhesions. A sudden loss of vision ... and a recovery. His last year. Robert in his mid-90's: planning to write scientific papers. Passing on. Robert's final resting place --
ch. 19. An innate grace. The essence of the man. Robert's philosophy on publications. Graciousness with finances. With colleagues and family.
Responsibility: I.-Juliana Christy.

Abstract:

Robert F. Christy was a fascinating physicist who was one of the key players in some of the most dramatic events of the 20th century. He was one of Oppenheimer's students, whom Oppenheimer hailed as "one of the best in the world". He was a co-creator of the world's first nuclear reactor and the first atom bombs, of which the most practical design was called the "Christy Gadget". Later, he became a leader in the effort to contain nuclear proliferation, leading up to the SALT talks, and headed a study on long-term health effects of radiation crucial for medical safety standards. He also made pioneering contributions in the field of astrophysics, working on the variable stars (Cepheids) that are key distance indicators in the universe. Robert was equally fascinating as a person. He remarried at nearly 60 to an astrophysicist 26 years younger from some 6,000 miles initial separation. They had two daughters late in his life. Robert stayed active both professionally and physically into his nineties. He would still gallop on his horse at the age of 93. This biography is brought alive not only with words, but also with the many treasured photographs of Robert, his family, and his colleagues.

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