Menu ☰

Back to Top

Physics History Network

Over 1000 biographies of physicists and histories of institutions with information pertaining to their lives, careers, and research.

Tip: Search within this page by using Ctrl + F or ⌘ + F


Search Our Catalogs

Archives Books

Collections

Emilio Segré Visual Archives Digital Collections Oral Histories Archival Finding Aids Physics History Network

Preservation and Support

Donating Materials Saving Archival Collections Grants to Archives Documentation Projects History Newsletters

Center for History of Physics

Scholarship & Outreach

Main Navigation

HomeAboutTopic GuidesFeedback

Table of Contents

Biography

AbstractImportant DatesOccupationPlacesSubjects

Relationships

PeopleInstitutions

Resources

Archival as AuthorArchival as SubjectPublished as AuthorPublished as Subject

Robert F. Christy

Photo

Dates

May 14, 1916 – October 3, 2012

Authorized Form of Name

Christy, Robert F.

Additional Forms of Names

Christy, Robert Frederick, 1916-2012

Biography

Abstract

Robert Christy was a physicist who worked on the Manhattan Project during World War II and designed a plutonium implosion device for the first nuclear bomb. Later in his career, he also studied cosmic rays and pulsating stars. His institutional affiliations included University of British Columbia and California Institute of Technology.

Important Dates

May 14, 1916Birth, Vancouver (B.C.).

1935Obtained BA, University of British Columbia, Vancouver (B.C.).

1937Obtained MA, University of British Columbia, Vancouver (B.C.).

1941Obtained PhD in Theoretical Physics, University of California, Berkeley, Berkeley (Calif.).

1941 – 1942Instructor in Physics, Illinois Institute of Technology.

1942 – 1943Researcher, Chicago Metallurgical Laboratory, Manhattan Project, Chicago (Ill.).

1943 – 1946Researcher, Los Alamos Laboratory, Manhattan Project, Los Alamos (N.M.).

1946 – 2012Assistant Professor to Professor (1946-1986); Chair of the Faculty (1969-1971); Vice President and Provost (1970-1980); Acting President (1977-1978); and Emeritus Professor of Physics (1986-2012), California Institute of Technology, Pasadena (Calif.).

1965Member, National Academy of Sciences.

October 3, 2012Death, Pasadena (Calif.).

Occupation

Theoretical physicist.

Places

Birth

Vancouver (B.C.)

Undergraduate Education

Vancouver (B.C.)

Graduate Education

Vancouver (B.C.)

Berkeley (Calif.)

Employment

Chicago (Ill.)

Los Alamos (N.M.)

Pasadena (Calif.)

Death

Pasadena (Calif.)

Subjects

Astrophysics.

Atomic bomb.

Electromagnetic theory.

Nuclear physics.

Theoretical physics.

Relationships

People

Family

Christy, Dagmar Elizabeth

Wife.

Christy, Peter

Son.

Christy, Thomas

Son.

Colleagues

Adelberger, Eric G.

Both employed at California Institute of Technology.

Allison, Samuel King, 1900-1965

Both employed at the Los Alamos Laboratory, Manhattan Project.

Anderson, Carl D. (Carl David), 1905-1991

Both employed at California Institute of Technology.

Bacher, Robert F. (Robert Fox), 1905-2004

Both employed at California Institute of Technology.

Bahcall, John N.

Both employed at California Institute of Technology.

Barish, B. C. (Barry Clark), 1936-

Both employed at California Institute of Technology.

Barschall, H. H. (Henry Herman), 1915-1997

Both employed at Los Alamos Laboratory, Manhattan Project.

Bateman, Harry, 1882-1946

Both employed at California Institute of Technology.

Bederson, Benjamin

Both employed at Los Alamos Laboratory, Manhattan Project.

Bloch, Felix, 1905-

Both employed at the Los Alamos Laboratory, Manhattan Project.

Boehm, Felix

Both employed at California Institute of Technology.

Bowman, J. D. (J. David)

Both employed at California Institute of Technology.

Breit, Gregory, 1899-1981

Both employed at the Chicago Metallurgical Laboratory, Manhattan Project.

Brown, Harold, 1927-

Both employed at California Institute of Technology.

Case, Kenneth M.

Both employed at the Los Alamos Laboratory, Manhattan Project.

Cole, Julian D.

Both employed at California Institute of Technology.

Corson, Dale R.

Both employed at Los Alamos Laboratory, Manhattan Project.

Creutz, E.

Both employed at the Los Alamos Laboratory, Manhattan Project.

Dashen, Roger F.

Both employed at California Institute of Technology.

Delbrück, Max

Both employed at California Institute of Technology.

Deser, S. (Stanley)

Both employed at California Institute of Technology.

Deutsch, Martin, 1917-2002

Both employed at the Los Alamos Laboratory, Manhattan Project.

DuBridge, Lee A. (Lee Alvin), 1901-1994

Both employed at California Institute of Technology.

Duffield, Robert B.

Both employed at Los Alamos Laboratory, Manhattan Project.

DuMond, Jesse W. M. (Jesse William Monroe), 1892-1976

Both employed at California Institute of Technology.

Duwez, Pol

Both employed at California Institute of Technology.

Eisenstein, James P. (James Philip)

Both employed at California Institute of Technology.

Epstein, Paul S. (Paul Sophus), 1883-1966

Both employed at California Institute of Technology.

Everhart, Thomas E.

Both employed at California Institute of Technology.

Feynman, Richard P. (Richard Phillips), 1918-1988

Both employed at California Institute of Technology.

Fitch, Val L., 1923-2015

Both employed at the Los Alamos Laboratory, Manhattan Project.

Fowler, William A.

Both employed at California Institute of Technology.

Freedman, Daniel Z.

Both employed at California Institute of Technology.

Friedman, Francis L. (Francis Lee), 1918-

Both employed at the Chicago Metallurgical Laboratory, Manhattan Project.

Gates, S. James

Both employed at California Institute of Technology.

Gell-Mann, Murray

Both employed at California Institute of Technology.

Glashow, Sheldon L.

Both employed at California Institute of Technology.

Glauber, Roy J., 1925-

Both employed at California Institute of Technology.

Goldberger, Marvin L.

Both employed at California Institute of Technology.

Gould, Roy W. (Roy Walter), 1927-

Both employed at California Institute of Technology.

Hellwarth, Robert Willis, 1930-

Both employed at California Institute of Technology.

Holdren, John P.

Both employed at California Institute of Technology.

Hopfield, John J.

Both employed at California Institute of Technology.

Houston, W. V. (William Vermillion), 1900-

Both employed at California Institute of Technology.

Kaspi, Victoria Michelle, 1967-

Both employed at California Institute of Technology.

Kimble, H. Jeff (Harry Jeffrey), 1949-

Both employed at California Institute of Technology.

Konopinski, Emil Jan, 1911-

Both employed at the Chicago Metallurgical Laboratory, Manhattan Project.

Koonin, Steven E.

Both employed at California Institute of Technology.

Kryder, Mark H.

Both employed at California Institute of Technology.

Lange, Andrew

Both employed at California Institute of Technology.

Lauritsen, Charles Christian, 1892-1968

Both employed at California Institute of Technology.

Lauritsen, Thomas, 1915-1973

Both employed at California Institute of Technology.

Leighton, Robert B.

Both employed at California Institute of Technology.

Marshak, Robert E. (Robert Eugene), 1916-1992

Both employed at the Los Alamos Laboratory, Manhattan Project.

Mayer, Maria Goeppert, 1906-1972

Both employed at Los Alamos Laboratory, Manhattan Project.

McDaniel, Boyce D. (Boyce Dawkins), 1917-

Both employed at Los Alamos Laboratory, Manhattan Project.

McKee, Christopher, 1942-

Both employed at California Institute of Technology.

Metropolis, N. (Nicholas), 1915-

Both employed at the Chicago Metallurgical Laboratory, Manhattan Project.

Millikan, Robert Andrews, 1868-1953

Both employed at California Institute of Technology.

Mulliken, Robert Sanderson

Both employed at the Chicago Metallurgical Laboratory, Manhattan Project.

Murray, Forest

Both employed at the Chicago Metallurgical Laboratory, Manhattan Project.

Oddone, Piermaria J.

Both employed at California Institute of Technology.

Ohlinger, Leo

Both employed at the Chicago Metallurgical Laboratory, Manhattan Project.

Oppenheimer, J. Robert, 1904-1967

Both employed at California Institute of Technology and Los Alamos Laboratory, Manhattan Project.

Politzer, H. David, 1949-

Both employed at California Institute of Technology.

Pope, S. B.

Both employed at California Institute of Technology.

Rieser, Leonard M.

Both employed at the Los Alamos Laboratory, Manhattan Project.

Robertson, H. P. (Howard Percy), 1903-1961

Both employed at California Institute of Technology.

Roshko, A. (Anatol)

Both employed at California Institute of Technology.

Schiff, Leonard I. (Leonard Isaac), 1915-1971

Both employed at Los Alamos Laboratory, Manhattan Project.

Schwarz, John H.

Both employed at California Institute of Technology.

Sciulli, Frank J.

Both employed at California Institute of Technology.

Serber, R. (Robert)

Both employed at the Chicago Metallurgical Laboratory, Manhattan Project.

Spitzer, Frank, 1926-

Both employed at California Institute of Technology.

Teller, Edward, 1908-2003

Both employed at the Chicago Metallurgical Laboratory, Manhattan Project.

Teukolsky, Saul A. (Saul Arno), 1947-

Both employed at California Institute of Technology.

Thorne, Kip S.

Both employed at California Institute of Technology.

Tollestrup, Alvin

Both employed at California Institute of Technology.

Tolman, Richard C. (Richard Chace), 1881-1948

Both employed at California Institute of Technology.

Trilling, George H.

Both employed at California Institute of Technology.

Tsuei, Chang C.

Both employed at California Institute of Technology.

Turkevich, Anthony, 1916-2002

Both employed at the Los Alamos Laboratory, Manhattan Project.

Von Kármán, Theodore, 1881-1963

Both employed at California Institute of Technology.

Weinberg, Alvin Martin, 1915-2006

Both employed at the Chicago Metallurgical Laboratory, Manhattan Project.

Wheeler, John Archibald, 1911-2008

Both employed at the Chicago Metallurgical Laboratory, Manhattan Project.

Wigner, Eugene Paul, 1902-1995

Both employed at the Chicago Metallurgical Laboratory, Manhattan Project.

Will, Clifford M., 1946-

Both employed at California Institute of Technology.

Wilson, Robert Woodrow, 1936-

Both employed at California Institute of Technology.

Wise, Mark B., 1953-

Both employed at California Institute of Technology.

Wu, Theodore Y.-T. (Theodore Yao-tsu)

Both employed at California Institute of Technology.

Yariv, Amnon

Both employed at California Institute of Technology.

Young, Gale Jay

Both employed at the Chicago Metallurgical Laboratory, Manhattan Project.

Zacharias, Jerrold Reinach, 1905-1986

Both employed at Los Alamos Laboratory, Manhattan Project.

Zweig, George

Both employed at California Institute of Technology.

Additional

Barnes, C. A.

Dyson, Freeman J.

Fermi, Enrico, 1901-1954

Morrison, Philip

Attended graduate school together.

Whaling, Ward, 1923-

Institutions

Major Positions

California Institute of Technology

Chair of the Faculty; Vice President; Provost; and Acting President.

California Institute of Technology. Division of Physics, Mathematics and Astronomy

Assistant Professor to Professor and Emeritus Professor of Physics.

Illinois Institute of Technology. Department of Physics

Instructor in Physics.

Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory

Researcher, Manhattan Project.

Manhattan Project (U.S.)

Researcher, Chicago Metallurgical Laboratory and Researcher, Los Alamos Laboratory.

United States. Office of Scientific Research and Development. Metallurgical Laboratory

Researcher, Manhattan Project.

Professional Activities & Affiliations

National Academy of Sciences (U.S.)

Member.

University of British Columbia. Department of Physics

Obtained BA in 1935 and MA in 1937.

University of California, Berkeley. Department of Physics

Obtained PhD (Theoretical Physics) in 1941.

Resources

Archival Resources

Author

Department of Physics and Astronomy records, 1959-

Rauner Special Collections Library

Dartmouth College

Hanover, NH 03755, USA

Los Alamos report 24: lecture series on nuclear physics, 1943-1944.

Niels Bohr Library & Archives

American Institute of Physics

One Physics Ellipse, College Park, MD 20740, USA

Manhattan Project videohistory collection [videorecording], 1987-1990.

Archives

Smithsonian Institution

Capital Gallery, Suite 3000, MRC 507, 600 Maryland Avenue SW, Washington, DC 20024-2520, USA

Notes on physics courses given at Los Alamos, 1943-1946.

Niels Bohr Library & Archives

American Institute of Physics

One Physics Ellipse, College Park, MD 20740, USA

Oral history interview with Robert F. Christy, 1994.

Institute Archives

California Institute of Technology

1201 East California Blvd. (Mail Code 015A-74), Pasadena, CA 91125, USA

U.S. Atomic Energy Commission lecture series on nuclear physics, 1943.

Niels Bohr Library & Archives

American Institute of Physics

One Physics Ellipse, College Park, MD 20740, USA

Subject

Bruce H. Morgan lecture notes, 1953-1954.

Institute Archives

California Institute of Technology

1201 East California Blvd. (Mail Code 015A-74), Pasadena, CA 91125, USA

Oral history interview with Charles A. Barnes, 1987 July and August.

Institute Archives

California Institute of Technology

1201 East California Blvd. (Mail Code 015A-74), Pasadena, CA 91125, USA

Oral history interview with Philip Morrison, 1967 February 7.

Niels Bohr Library & Archives

American Institute of Physics

One Physics Ellipse, College Park, MD 20740, USA

Oral history interview with Thomas Lauritsen, 1967 February 16.

Niels Bohr Library & Archives

American Institute of Physics

One Physics Ellipse, College Park, MD 20740, USA

Oral history interview with Ward Whaling, 1999 April-May.

Institute Archives

California Institute of Technology

1201 East California Blvd. (Mail Code 015A-74), Pasadena, CA 91125, USA

Published Resources

Author

Foundations of electromagnetic theory / John R. Reitz, Frederic J. Milford, Robert W. Christy.

Subject

Noted Physicist Robert F. Christy Dies.

Robert Christy Physics Today obituary.

Robert F. Christy 1916-2912, Biographical Memoirs of the National Academy of Sciences.

Robert F. Christy, Atom Bomb Physicist, Dies at 96.