Dr. David S. P. Dearborn is a graduate of UCLA (1970) and the University of Texas at Austin (1975). He has held positions at the Copernicus Institute in Warsaw, the Institute of Astronomy in Cambridge, the California Institute of Technology, and Steward Observatory in Tucson. He is currently a research physicist at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.
He was the 1998 Shelby Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science, and has received two Pollock awards for work in the History of astronomy. He has received three “Weapons Recognition of Excellence” awards from the Department of Energy. These awards recognized his contributions to laser hohlraum development, his work advancing the analysis of radar data, and finally for his efforts on the W87 Life Extension Program. In 2006, he received a Defense and Nuclear Technologies acknowledgement for “outstanding contributions of the cross discipline improvement of ICBM accuracy ...”, and others (2007 and 2008) for “warhead contributions in support of Prompt Global Strike”. More recently he received a Defense Programs Award of Eexcellence for addressing planetary defense challenges.
His programmatic work has included the design and testing of both nuclear and conventional explosives, and generating models and output for the DTRA Red Book. He continues to support the LLNL RV flight-test program, and conventional lethality studies. For the flight test program, he is responsible for combining data sets to assess the endo-atmospheric flight performance and terminal behavior of high fidelity RVs. Previous efforts with this group involved using radar to assess exo-atmospheric behavior as well. He has used large lasers for the study of high energy density phenomena, studied non-seismic methods for treaty verification, and designed a shuttle experiment.
His astrophysical research includes publications on observations of isotope ratios in red giants, as well as the discovery of several short period variables. However, most of his astrophysics work involves theoretical studies on the physics of stars, including stellar nucleosynthesis, and astro-particle physics. He was involved in Djehuty, a project for the full three-dimensional modeling stars, which led to the discovery of a new mixing mechanism that resolves a decades old conflict between predicted and observed abundances in Red Giants. Current work includes followup on the characteristics of this new mixing mechanism, as well as the first 3D modeling Pair Instability Supernovae.
His work on the astronomy of the Inca includes the widely accepted recognition of observatories for monitoring solar motion at Machu Picchu and Pisac, and the discovery of a set of Inca pillars marking the June solar position at the Island of the Sun in Bolivia. This and other Andean work has resulted in a dozen journal publications and a book on the subject. He is a full member of the Institute for Andean Studies, a founding member of the International Society for Archaeoastronomy, and Astronomy in Culture (ISAAC), and until recently was one of four principal editors for the journal Archaeoastronomy, published by the University of Texas Press.
His current research on the diversion of asteroids by nuclear explosives mixes his skills in astrophysics and nuclear weapons effects. It began in 2003 for the Planetary Defense Conference, and resulted in publications cited by NASA’s 2006 Near-Earth Object Survey and Deflection Study for the congress. It also led to his participation on the 2009 National Academy panel studying asteroid mitigation that was reported to congress in early 2010. Today, this research continues with detailed modeling of the effects of nuclear explosives on asteroids.