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Orion Drive   >   Stanislaw Ulam
   

Stanislaw Ulam

Stanislaw M. Ulam
Stanislaw Marcin Ulam (April 13, 1909 to May 13, 1984) was a Polish mathematican. He made important contributions in mathematics, including in the areas of algebraic topology, ergodic theory, number theory and set theory, as well in physics, especially nuclear physics and the study of dynamical systems. He may also have been the first person to propose the idea of a technological singularity; in 1958, the year after John von Neumann's death, Ulam described a conversation that the two of them had once had on this topic.

Ulam contributed to the Manhattan Project, and together with Edward Teller proposed the Teller-Ulam design for thermonuclear weapons (known publically for 30 years as the "Teller-Ulam H-bomb secret"). Although Edward Teller is often popularly know as the father of the H-bomb, according to the German-American physicist and Nobel laureate, Hans Albrecht Bethe, (who also worked on the project), it would be more accurate to say that "Ulam is the father, because he provided the seed, and Teller is the mother, because he remained with the child." (The exact contributions of Ulam of Edward Teller, and how the Teller-Ulam design was arrived at, has been a matter of public and private dispute since the 1950s).

Stanislaw Ulam was the first person to conceive of external nuclear pulse propulsion, which is of course the basic idea behind Project Orion. Apparently he began to think about using atomic bombs as a means of propulsion, the day after the Trinity atomic bomb test in 1945, and had thought of the idea of external nuclear pulse propulsion by 1946. At the end of his life, Ulam declared that this was the invention of which he was most proud.

Here are some books by or about Stanislaw Ulam:

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Adventures of a Mathematician
By S. M. Ulam

University of California Press
Released: 1991-07-23
Paperback (388 pages)

Adventures of a Mathematician
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The autobiography of mathematician Stanislaw Ulam, one of the great scientific minds of the twentieth century, tells a story rich with amazingly prophetic speculations and peppered with lively anecdotes. As a member of the Los Alamos National Laboratory from 1944 on, Ulam helped to precipitate some of the most dramatic changes of the postwar world. He was among the first to use and advocate computers for scientific research, originated ideas for the nuclear propulsion of space vehicles, and made fundamental contributions to many of today's most challenging mathematical projects.

With his wide-ranging interests, Ulam never emphasized the importance of his contributions to the research that resulted in the hydrogen bomb. Now Daniel Hirsch and William Mathews reveal the true story of Ulam's pivotal role in the making of the "Super," in their historical introduction to this behind-the-scenes look at the minds and ideas that ushered in the nuclear age. An epilogue by Fran├žoise Ulam and Jan Mycielski sheds new light on Ulam's character and mathematical originality.
Stanislaw Ulam: Sets, Numbers, and Universes, Selected Works (Mathematicians of Our Time)
By Stanislaw Ulam

Brand: MIT Press
Hardcover (709 pages)

Stanislaw Ulam: Sets, Numbers, and Universes, Selected Works (Mathematicians of Our Time)
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Mathematics and Logic; Retrospect and Prospects
By Mark ; Ulam, Stanislaw M. Kac

Frederick A. Praeger
Hardcover (170 pages)

Mathematics and Logic; Retrospect and Prospects
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A discussion of the developmental history, significant discoveries and influences of mathematics.
Problems in Modern Mathematics
By Stanislaw M. Ulam

Interscience Publishers
Paperback (150 pages)

Problems in Modern Mathematics
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Problems in modern mathematics (Science editions)
By Stanislaw M Ulam

Wiley
Paperback (150 pages)

Problems in modern mathematics (Science editions)
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Los Alamos Science, Number 15, Special Issue on Stanislaw Ulam, 1987
By Los Alamos National Laboratory

Los Alamos National Lab, [Los Alamos, NM]
Paperback

Los Alamos Science, Number 15, Special Issue on Stanislaw Ulam, 1987
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From Cardinals to Chaos: Reflection on the Life and Legacy of Stanislaw Ulam
Brand: Cambridge University Press
Paperback (320 pages)
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Los Alamos Science Number 15. Special Issue: Stanislaw Ulam 1909-1984
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