Arts and Entertainment

Whiteley Lecture ‘Project Orion’: what went wrong

A San Juan Nature Institute Whitely Lecture on Thursday, May 23, will feature George Dyson, author and historian of technology, speaking on “Project Orion-Saturn by 1970: What went wrong.”

In November of 1957, a small group of scientists, inspired by Stanislaw Ulam and led by Theodore B. Taylor, launched a project to build a 4,000-ton interplanetary spaceship propelled by nuclear bombs. The goal was to reach Mars by 1965, and Saturn by 1970, in ships carrying fifty people and payloads of one thousand tons.

After seven years, the technical challenges appeared surmountable, but resistance from NASA brought the effort to a halt. Fifty years later, NASA astronauts are paying $70 million each for middle seats on Russian rockets - just to visit low earth orbit. What went wrong?

George Dyson has written and lectured on a wide range of topics, including the history of computing, the development of algorithms and intelligence, communication systems, space exploration, and the design of water craft. He lectured on Turing’s Cathedral in Friday Harbor in the 2012 Arthur Whiteley series; his return is sponsored by John and Sally Brookbank.

The lecture is free. Info: info@sjnature.org.

 

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