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What inspired Project Orion?

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Robert Christy (1916-2012) was an American theoretical physicist who worked on the Manhattan Project at Los Alamos, the program which developed the first atomic bomb during World War II. He received a master’s degree from the University of British Columbia for physics. His involvement in the Manhattan Project was prompted by his PhD studies at the University of California, Berkeley, where he studied under the stewardship of Robert Oppenheimer. Christy was also a member of Project Orion – a program which explored the concept of space travel powered by a series of atomic bomb explosions. He was a former president of the California Institute of Technology, where he worked for many years. Also an astrophysicist, Christy was awarded the Eddington Medal of the Royal Astronomical Society in 1967.

Listeners: Christopher Sykes

Christopher Sykes is an independent documentary producer who has made a number of films about science and scientists for BBC TV, Channel Four, and PBS.

Tags: Project Orion, La Jolla, Freeman Dyson

Duration: 2 minutes, 22 seconds

Date story recorded: 2001

Date story went live: 20 September 2012