Sunday, June 12, 2022

Von Neumann: The Interaction of Mathematics and Computing, Stan Ulam 1976 talk (video)


Von Neumann: The Interaction of Mathematics and Computing, by Stan Ulam. 

See A History of Computing in the Twentieth Century, Edited by: N. METROPOLIS, J. HOWLETT and GIAN-CARLO ROTA.
More videos from the conference here. (Konrad Zuse!)

See at 50 minutes for an interesting story about von Neumann's role in the implosion mechanism for atomic bombs. vN apparently solved the geometrical problem for the shape of the explosive lens overnight after hearing a seminar on the topic. Still classified?
To solve this problem, the Los Alamos team planned to produce an “explosive lens”, a combination of different explosives with different shock wave speeds. When molded into the proper shape and dimensions, the high-speed and low-speed shock waves would combine with each other to produce a uniform concave pressure wave with no gaps. This inwardly-moving concave wave, when it reached the plutonium sphere at the center of the design, would instantly squeeze the metal to at least twice the density, producing a compressed ball of plutonium that contained about 5 times the necessary critical mass. A nuclear explosion would then result.
More here.

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