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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 Stanislaw M. Ulam

Brand: Scribner
Hardcover (317 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 Françoise 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

MIT Press
Hardcover (709 pages)

Stanislaw Ulam: Sets, Numbers, and Universes, Selected Works (Mathematicians of Our Time)
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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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Ulam, famous for his solution to the difficulties of initiating fusion in the hydrogen bomb, devised the well-known Monte-Carlo method. Here he presents challenges in the areas of set theory, algebra, metric and topological spaces, and topological groups. Issues in analysis, physical systems, and the use of computers as a heuristic aid are also addressed. 
Stanislaw Ulam: Sets, Numbers, and Universes, Selected Works (Mathematicians of Our Time) by Stanislaw Ulam (1974-08-01)
By Stanislaw Ulam

MIT Press
Hardcover

Stanislaw Ulam: Sets, Numbers, and Universes, Selected Works (Mathematicians of Our Time) by Stanislaw Ulam (1974-08-01)
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Adventures of a Mathematician 2nd edition by Stanislaw M. Ulam (1976) Hardcover
By Stanislaw M. Ulam

Scribner
Hardcover

Adventures of a Mathematician 2nd edition by Stanislaw M. Ulam (1976) Hardcover
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Fragile Dominion: Complexity And The Commons (Stanislaw M. Ulam Lecture Series)
By Simon Levin

Brand: Basic Books
Hardcover (272 pages)

Fragile Dominion: Complexity And The Commons (Stanislaw M. Ulam Lecture Series)
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We all know that our planet is losing its biological diversity at an alarming rate, with frightening implications for our future. But when does an ecosystem hit the breaking point? In this important book, Princeton biologist Simon Levin offers general readers the first look at how the new science of complexity can help to solve our looming ecological crisis. Levin argues that our biosphere is the classic embodiment of what scientists call complex adaptive systems. By exploring how such systems work, we can determine how they might fail: How much loss can an ecosystem bear before it starts to collapse? How resilient are these systems? Do they in fact hover at the edge of chaos? A deeply original work on one of the most pressing issues of our time, Fragile Dominion is a powerful appeal to understand and protect the global “commons.”
From Cardinals to Chaos: Reflection on the Life and Legacy of Stanislaw Ulam
Brand: Cambridge University Press
Paperback (320 pages)
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This explorative insight into the life and legacy of the famous Polish mathematician reveals his background and focuses on current research inspired by Stanislaw's vision. The text includes two pieces written by Stanislaw and personal conversations on John von Newmann and Paul Erdos.
Los Alamos Science Number 15. Special Issue: Stanislaw Ulam 1909-1984
By [journal]

Los Alamos National Laboratory, Los Alamos, NM, 19
Paperback
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