Lyrae stars, which are similar to but smaller than the Cepheid variables used ascosmic yardsticks. In 1967 this work earned Christy the Eddington Medal of theRoyal Astronomical Society.In 1970, Christy became Caltech’s provost, a post he held for the next tenyears. After Caltech president Harold Brown left to join the Carter Administrationas Secretary of Defense in 1977, Christy was also acting president of the institute,until the advent of Marvin L. (Murph) Goldberger a year later. In the mid-1980she became a member of the National Research Council’s Committee onDosimetry, which investigated the radiation effects of the Hiroshima andNagasaki bombs.In the interview Christy recalls his childhood in British Columbia; hisundergraduate years at the University of British Columbia; his graduate work withJ. Robert Oppenheimer at Berkeley; and his work on the Manhattan Project, firstwith Enrico Fermi at the Metallurgical Laboratory of the University of Chicagoand then as a member of the Theoretical Division at Los Alamos. He recounts hiswartime work on the critical assembly for the plutonium bomb (“the Christybomb”); the Alamogordo test, July 16, 1945; the postwar concerns of ALAS(Association of Los Alamos Scientists); his brief return to the University of Chicago and move to Caltech; friendship with and later alienation from EdwardTeller; work with Charles and Tommy Lauritsen and William A. Fowler inCaltech’s Kellogg Radiation Laboratory; Freeman Dyson’s Orion Project; work on the meson and RR Lyrae stars; fellowship at Cambridge University; 1950sVista Project at Caltech; his opposition to the Strategic Defense Initiative; and hispost-retirement work for the National Research Council’s Committee onDosimetry and on inertial-confinement fusion.
The interview is unrestricted. A slightly different version of this interview waspublished in two parts as “A Conversation with Robert F. Christy” in
, 8 (2006), 282-317, 408-450.
Copyright has been assigned to the California Institute of Technology © 1998,2007. All requests for permission to publish or quote from the transcript must besubmitted in writing to the University Archivist.
Christy, Robert F. Interview by Sara Lippincott. Pasadena, California, June 15,17, 21, and 22, 1994. Oral History Project, California Institute of TechnologyArchives. Retrieved [supply date of retrieval] from the World Wide Web:http://resolver.caltech.edu/CaltechOH:OH_Christy_R