GERARD K. O'NEILL
Gerard K. O'Neill was
born in Brooklyn, in 1927, to Edward, a lawyer and judge, and
Dorothy O'Neill. He joined the Navy at age 17 and served as a
radar technician from 1944 to 1946. He graduated from Swarthmore
College in 1950 with high honors in physics and received a doctorate
in physics from Cornell University in 1954. That year he joined
the faculty of Princeton University, which he remained associated
with until his death in 1992. He was a pilot with ratings for
gliders, land aircraft, and instrument flight, and as a sailplane
pilot held an International Diamond Badge in soaring.
Dr. O'Neill's early research focused on high-energy particle
physics. He worked on massive atom-smashing devices located in
Italy and Switzerland as well as Princeton and Stanford Universities.
In 1956 he invented the storage ring technique for colliding
particle beams. His studies on the colonization of space began
in 1969 as a result of undergraduate teaching at Princeton, and
were first published in 1974. His signature work, The High
Frontier, was first published in 1977. It proposed the construction
of giant solar powered cylinders in which as many as 20 million
people could live in space. Materials for these colonies would
come from mining the Moon and asteroids. Also in 1977, he founded
the Space Studies Institute at Princeton, an organization that
continues today to fund research in space manufacturing and resources.
Dr. O'Neill was selected by the editors of Aviation Week as one
of the Americans who contributed most to the development of the
aerospace field in the year 1975. In 1985 he was appointed by
President Reagan to the National Commission on Space. He is author
of The High Frontier, 2081: A Hopeful View of the Human
Future, and The Technology Edge: Opportunities for America
in World Competition.