Robert F Christy was a legendary physicist, one of the key players in some of the most dramatic events of the 20th century. He was a student of Oppenheimer, who called him "one of the best in the world." He was a crucial member of Fermi's team when they first unleashed the unheard-of energies of nuclear power, creating the world's first nuclear reactor on December 2, 1942. On the Manhattan Project he was the key physicist in the successful test of the world's first atomic bomb, the "Christy Gadget", at Alamogordo on July 16, 1945. Almost immediately he turned his talents to promoting the peaceful uses of atomic energy. He successfully opposed atmospheric testing of atomic bombs and fought nuclear proliferation, a campaign that eventually led to the SALT talks with the Soviet Union. His favorite subject was astrophysics where he made fundamental contributions to the understanding of Cepheids, variable stars that are crucial distance indicators in the universe.Robert was equally fascinating as a man. In his mid-50's he became irresistably attracted to an astrophysicist, but they were a continent and a generation apart. Near his 60's they started a happy and fulfilling life together. He remained vigorous both mentally and physically into his 90's: he was still galloping his horse at age 93.Robert's story is one of overcoming obstacles, of hope, and of fulfillment.
Early Childhood; The Formative UBC Years; Exciting Graduate Years with Oppenheimer; First Marriage to Dagmar von Lieven; The Very First Nuclear Reactor; Designing the First Atomic Bomb; Becoming Oppenheimer's Successor at Caltech; Opposing Nuclear Proliferation; Contributions to Physics at Caltech; Pioneering Work in Astrophysics: Variable Stars; Achieving Robert's Dreams for Caltech; Second Marriage to Ingrid Julianna Sackmann; Daughters Late in Life; Acting President of Caltech; Later Years - Teaching and Research; Radiation Dosimetry in Hiroshima and Nagasaki; The Spring Valley Ranch: Fulfilling a Dream; Robert's Health Struggles and Successes; An Innate Grace.