Ulam, Stanislaw Marcin

▪ American scientist
born April 13, 1909, Lemberg, Poland, Austrian Empire [now Lviv, Ukraine]
died May 13, 1984, Santa Fe, New Mexico, U.S.

      mathematician who played a major role in the development of the hydrogen bomb at Los Alamos, New Mexico, U.S.

      Ulam received a doctoral degree (1933) at the Polytechnic Institute in Lvov (now Lviv). At the invitation of John von Neumann (von Neumann, John), he worked at the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, New Jersey, U.S., in 1936. He lectured at Harvard University in 1939–40 and taught at the University of Wisconsin at Madison from 1941 to 1943. In 1943 he became a U.S. citizen and was recruited to work at Los Alamos on the development of the atomic bomb. He remained at Los Alamos until 1965 and taught at various universities thereafter.

 Ulam had a number of specialties, including set theory, mathematical logic (logic, history of), functions of real variables, thermonuclear reactions, topology, and the Monte Carlo theory. Working with physicist Edward Teller (Teller, Edward), Ulam solved one major problem encountered in work on the fusion bomb by suggesting that compression was essential to explosion and that shock waves from a fission bomb could produce the compression needed. He further suggested that careful design could focus mechanical shock waves in such a way that they would promote rapid burning of the fusion fuel. Teller suggested that radiation implosion, rather than mechanical shock, be used to compress the thermonuclear (thermonuclear bomb) fuel. This two-stage radiation implosion design, which became known as the Teller-Ulam configuration, led to the creation of modern thermonuclear weapons.

      Ulam's work at Los Alamos had begun with his development (in collaboration with von Neumann) of the Monte Carlo method, a technique for finding approximate solutions to problems by means of artificial sampling. Through the use of electronic computers, this method became widespread, finding applications in weapons design, mathematical economy, and operations research. Ulam also improved the flexibility and general utility of computers and wrote a number of papers and books on aspects of mathematics. The latter include A Collection of Mathematical Problems (1960), Stanislaw Ulam: Sets, Numbers, and Universes (1974), and Adventures of a Mathematician (1976).

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Universalium. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • ULAM, STANISLAW MARCIN — (1909–1984), mathematician. Ulam was born in Lvov, Poland (then Austro Hungary), and educated at the Lvov Polytechnic Institute, receiving his doctorate in mathematics in 1933. In 1935 he was invited to work at the Institute for Advanced Study in …   Encyclopedia of Judaism

  • Ulam , Stanislaw Marcin — (1909–1986) Polish–American mathematician The son of a lawyer, Ulam was educated at the polytechnic in his native city of Lwow, Poland, where he completed his doctorate in 1933. Ulam quickly developed a reputation as an original mathematician and …   Scientists

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  • Stanislaw Ulam — (Foto auf seinem Los Alamos Dienstausweis während des 2. Weltkriegs) Stanisław Marcin Ulam, auch Stanley Ulam (* 13. April 1909 in Lwów; † 13. Mai 1984 in Santa Fe) war ein polnischer Mathematiker. Stanislaw Ulams Ma …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Stanisław Ulam — Stanislaw Ulam (Foto auf seinem Los Alamos Dienstausweis während des 2. Weltkriegs) Stanisław Marcin Ulam, auch Stanley Ulam (* 13. April 1909 in Lwów; † 13. Mai 1984 in Santa Fe) war ein polnischer Mathematiker. Stanislaw Ulams Ma …   Deutsch Wikipedia

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