Friday, June 26, 2009

[Yasmin_discussions] artists and atoms: fission and fusion


Your story about Edward Teller and his idea of using
nuclear bombs to create a harbor in the shape of a bear
reminded me of the continuing ideas using nuclear
power to power space ships

the orginal idea (from wikpaedia) is attributed to
stan ulam

Project Orion was the first engineering design study of a spacecraft
powered by nuclear pulse propulsion,
an idea proposed first by Stanisław Ulam during 1947. The project,
initiated in 1958, envisioned the
explosion of atomic bombs behind the craft and was led by Ted Taylor
at General Atomics and physicist
Freeman Dyson....

It offered performance greater than the most advanced conventional
or nuclear rocket engines now being studied.
Cheap interplanetary travel was the goal of the Orion Project.
Its supporters felt that it had potential for space travel, but it
lost political
approval because of concerns with fallout from its propulsion. This concern
could be addressed partially by building
it in orbit.[1] The Partial Test Ban Treaty of 1963 is generally
acknowledged to
have ended the project.

The wikipaedia article also has an interesting anecdote about, why ulam moved
from working in physics to biology (apparently disputed by his widow)

After World War II he largely turned from rigorous pure mathematics to
speculative work, posing problems and making conjectures often concerning
the application of mathematics to physics and biology. His friend
Gian-Carlo Rota
ascribed this change to an attack of encephalitis in 1946 that Rota
claimed changed
Ulam's personality

this would make a tendencious yasmin discussion topic about whether
speculative interdisciplinary work can be enabled by encephalitis attacks

just joking=though there is a whole art history industry studying
the diseases/mental conditions of creative people=we have stopped
accepting manuscript proposals in Leonardo on this topic

edward teller is of course a towering figure in the history of nuclear
fission and fusion but unfortunately his speculative fancies were adopted
as fact by ronald reagan in the star wars program= maybe his harbour in
the shape of a bear was better idea

more seriously the birth of the atomic age was wrapped in the idea of
atoms for peace, a culturally powerful idea= eisenhower's speech which
launched the idea

The more important responsibility of this atomic energy agency would
be to devise methods
whereby this fissionable material would be allocated to serve the
peaceful pursuits of mankind.
Experts would be mobilized to apply atomic energy to the needs of agriculture,
medicine and other peaceful activities.

the Atoms for Peace award was awarded until 1969 and not
awarded since and never awarded to a cultural professional


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