Ernest O. Lawrence
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Ernest Orlando Lawrence (August 8, 1901 – August 27, 1958) was a pioneering American
nuclear scientist Nuclear physics is the field of physics that studies atomic nuclei and their constituents and interactions. Other forms of nuclear matter are also studied. Nuclear physics should not be confused with atomic physics, which studies the atom as a wh ...
and winner of the
Nobel Prize in Physics ) , image = Nobel Prize.png , alt = A golden medallion with an embossed image of a bearded man facing left in profile. To the left of the man is the text "ALFR•" then "NOBEL", and on the right, the text (smaller) "NAT•" then "M ...
in 1939 for his invention of the
cyclotron . The magnet is painted yellow. A cyclotron is a type of particle accelerator , a synchrotron collider type particle accelerator at Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory (Fermilab), Batavia, Illinois, USA. Shut down in 2011, until 2007 it wa ...

cyclotron
. He is known for his work on uranium-isotope separation for the
Manhattan Project The Manhattan Project was a research and development Research is " creative and systematic work undertaken to increase the stock of knowledge". It involves the collection, organization, and analysis of information to increase understa ...
, as well as for founding the
Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL), commonly referred to as Berkeley Lab, is a United States national laboratory that conducts scientific research on behalf of the Department of EnergyA Ministry of Energy or Department of Energy is a ...
and the
Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) is a federal research facility in Livermore, California Livermore (formerly Livermores, Livermore Ranch, and Nottingham) is a city in Alameda County, California, in the United States. With an es ...
. A graduate of the
University of South Dakota The University of South Dakota (USD) is a public In public relations and communication science, publics are groups of individual people, and the public (a.k.a. the general public) is the totality of such groupings. This is a different c ...
and
University of Minnesota The University of Minnesota, Twin Cities (the U of M or Minnesota) is a public university, public Land-grant university, land-grant research university in the Minneapolis–Saint Paul, Twin Cities of Minneapolis and Saint Paul, Minnesota. The Tw ...

University of Minnesota
, Lawrence obtained a
PhD A Doctor of Philosophy (PhD, Ph.D., or DPhil; Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as La ...
in physics at
Yale Yale University is a private Ivy League The Ivy League (also known as The Ancient Eight) is an American collegiate athletic conference comprising eight private research universities in the Northeastern United States. The term ''Ivy ...
in 1925. In 1928, he was hired as an associate professor of physics at the
University of California, Berkeley The University of California, Berkeley (UC Berkeley, Berkeley, Cal, or California) is a public university, public land-grant university, land-grant research university in Berkeley, California. Established in 1868 as the University of California ...

University of California, Berkeley
, becoming the youngest full professor there two years later. In its library one evening, Lawrence was intrigued by a diagram of an accelerator that produced high-energy particles. He contemplated how it could be made compact, and came up with an idea for a circular accelerating chamber between the poles of an
electromagnet File:VFPt Solenoid correct2.svg, Magnetic field produced by a solenoid (coil of wire). This drawing shows a cross section through the center of the coil. The crosses are wires in which current is moving into the page; the dots are wires in whi ...

electromagnet
. The result was the first
cyclotron . The magnet is painted yellow. A cyclotron is a type of particle accelerator , a synchrotron collider type particle accelerator at Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory (Fermilab), Batavia, Illinois, USA. Shut down in 2011, until 2007 it wa ...

cyclotron
. Lawrence went on to build a series of ever larger and more expensive cyclotrons. His Radiation Laboratory became an official department of the University of California in 1936, with Lawrence as its director. In addition to the use of the cyclotron for physics, Lawrence also supported its use in research into medical uses of radioisotopes. During
World War II World War II or the Second World War, often abbreviated as WWII or WW2, was a that lasted from 1939 to 1945. It involved —including all of the great powers—forming two opposing s: the and the . In a total war directly involving m ...
, Lawrence developed electromagnetic
isotope separation Isotope separation is the process of concentrating specific isotope Isotopes are variants of a particular chemical element which differ in neutron number, and consequently in nucleon number. All isotopes of a given element have the same number ...
at the Radiation Laboratory. It used devices known as
calutron A calutron is a mass spectrometer Mass spectrometry (MS) is an analytical technique that is used to measure the mass-to-charge ratio of ions. The results are presented as a ''mass spectrum'', a plot of intensity as a function of the mass-to-cha ...
s, a hybrid of the standard laboratory
mass spectrometer Mass spectrometry (MS) is an analytical technique that is used to measure the mass-to-charge ratio of ions. The results are presented as a ''mass spectrum'', a plot of intensity as a function of the mass-to-charge ratio. Mass spectrometry is used i ...
and cyclotron. A huge electromagnetic separation plant was built at
Oak Ridge, Tennessee Oak Ridge is a city in Anderson County, Tennessee, Anderson and Roane County, Tennessee, Roane counties in the East Tennessee, eastern part of the U.S. state of Tennessee, about west of downtown Knoxville, Tennessee, Knoxville. Oak Ridge's popula ...
, which came to be called Y-12. The process was inefficient, but it worked. After the war, Lawrence campaigned extensively for government sponsorship of large scientific programs, and was a forceful advocate of " Big Science", with its requirements for big machines and big money. Lawrence strongly backed
Edward Teller Edward Teller ( hu, Teller Ede; January 15, 1908 – September 9, 2003) was a Hungarian-American Hungarian Americans (Hungarian language, Hungarian: ''amerikai magyarok'') are United States, Americans of Hungarian people, Hungarian ...
's campaign for a second nuclear weapons laboratory, which Lawrence located in
Livermore, California Livermore (formerly Livermores, Livermore Ranch, and Nottingham) is a city in Alameda County, California, in the United States. With an estimated 2019 population of 90,189, Livermore is the most populous city in the Tri-Valley. Livermore is loca ...
. After his death, the
Regents of the University of California The Regents of the University of California (also referred to as the Board of Regents to distinguish the board from the corporation it governs of that exact same name) is the governing board of the University of California#REDIRECT University of ...
renamed the
Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) is a federal research facility in Livermore, California Livermore (formerly Livermores, Livermore Ranch, and Nottingham) is a city in Alameda County, California, in the United States. With an es ...
and
Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL), commonly referred to as Berkeley Lab, is a United States national laboratory that conducts scientific research on behalf of the Department of EnergyA Ministry of Energy or Department of Energy is a ...
after him. Chemical element number 103 was named
lawrencium Lawrencium is a syntheticA synthetic is an artificial material produced by organic chemistry, organic chemical synthesis. Synthetic may also refer to: In the sense of both "combination" and "artificial" * Synthetic chemical or synthetic comp ...

lawrencium
in his honor after its discovery at Berkeley in 1961.


Early life

Ernest Orlando Lawrence was born in
Canton, South Dakota Canton is a city in and the county seat A county seat is an administrative center, seat of government, or capital city of a county or Parish (administrative division), civil parish. The term is used in Canada, China, Romania, Hungary and the Uni ...
, on August 8, 1901. His parents, Carl Gustavus and Gunda (née Jacobson) Lawrence, were both the offspring of Norwegian immigrants who had met while teaching at the high school in Canton, where his father was also the superintendent of schools. He had a younger brother,
John H. Lawrence
John H. Lawrence
, who would become a
physician A physician (American English American English (AmE, AE, AmEng, USEng, en-US), sometimes called United States English or U.S. English, is the set of varieties of the English language native to the United States. Currently, American ...

physician
, and was a pioneer in the field of
nuclear medicine Nuclear medicine is a medical specialty A medical specialty is a branch of medical practice that is focused on a defined group of patients, diseases, skills, or philosophy. Examples include children (paediatrics Pediatrics (American and Briti ...
. Growing up, his best friend was
Merle Tuve Merle Anthony Tuve (June 27, 1901 – May 20, 1982) was an American geophysicist who was the Chairman of the Office of Scientific Research and Development's Section T, which was created in August of 1940. He was founding director of the Johns Hopki ...
, who would also go on to become a highly accomplished physicist. Lawrence attended the public schools of Canton and
Pierre Pierre is a masculine given name. It is a French French (french: français(e), link=no) may refer to: * Something of, from, or related to France France (), officially the French Republic (french: link=no, République française), is a ...
, then enrolled at St. Olaf College in
Northfield, Minnesota Northfield is a city in Dakota County, Minnesota, Dakota and Rice County, Minnesota, Rice counties in the U.S. state, State of Minnesota. It is mostly in Rice County, with a small portion in Dakota County. The population was 20,908 at the 2020 Un ...
, but transferred after a year to the
University of South Dakota The University of South Dakota (USD) is a public In public relations and communication science, publics are groups of individual people, and the public (a.k.a. the general public) is the totality of such groupings. This is a different c ...
in Vermillion. He completed his bachelor's degree in chemistry in 1922, and his
Master of Arts A Master of Arts ( la, Magister Artium or ''Artium Magister''; abbreviated MA or AM) is the holder of a master's degree A master's degree (from Latin ) is an academic degree awarded by University, universities or colleges upon completion of a co ...
(M.A.) degree in physics from the
University of Minnesota The University of Minnesota, Twin Cities (the U of M or Minnesota) is a public university, public Land-grant university, land-grant research university in the Minneapolis–Saint Paul, Twin Cities of Minneapolis and Saint Paul, Minnesota. The Tw ...

University of Minnesota
in 1923 under the supervision of
William Francis Gray SwannWilliam Francis Gray Swann (August 29, 1884 – January 29, 1962) was an England, Anglo-United States, American physicist. Education He was educated at Brighton Technical College and the Royal College of Science from which he obtained a B.Sc. ...
. For his master's thesis, Lawrence built an experimental apparatus that rotated an
ellipsoid An ellipsoid is a surface that may be obtained from a sphere A sphere (from Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country loca ...

ellipsoid
through a
magnetic field A magnetic field is a vector field In vector calculus and physics, a vector field is an assignment of a vector to each point in a subset of space. For instance, a vector field in the plane can be visualised as a collection of arrows with ...

magnetic field
. Lawrence followed Swann to the
University of Chicago The University of Chicago (UChicago) is a in . Founded in 1890, its main campus is located in Chicago's neighborhood. In Fall 2021, it enrolled 18,452 students, including 7,559 undergraduates and 10,893 graduate students. The university is ...
, and then to
Yale University Yale University is a private Private or privates may refer to: Music * "In Private "In Private" was the third single in a row to be a charting success for United Kingdom, British singer Dusty Springfield, after an absence of nearly two d ...
in
New Haven, Connecticut New Haven is a coastal city in the of . It is located on on the northern shore of in , and is part of the . With a population of 134,023 as determined by the ,{{https://www.census.gov/quickfacts/fact/table/newhavencityconnecticut/POP010220# ...
, where Lawrence completed his
Doctor of Philosophy A Doctor of Philosophy (PhD, Ph.D., or DPhil; Latin or ''doctor philosophiae'') is the most common Academic degree, degree at the highest academic level awarded following a course of study. PhDs are awarded for programs across the whole br ...
(Ph.D.) degree in physics in 1925 as a Sloane Fellow, writing his doctoral thesis on the
photoelectric effect The photoelectric effect is the emission of electrons when electromagnetic radiation, such as light, hits a material. Electrons emitted in this manner are called photoelectrons. The phenomenon is studied in condensed matter physics, and Solid-state ...

photoelectric effect
in potassium vapor. He was elected a member of
Sigma Xi Sigma Xi, The Scientific Research Honor Society (ΣΞ) is a non-profit A nonprofit organization (NPO), also known as a non-business entity, not-for-profit organization, or nonprofit institution, is a legal entity organized and operated for a col ...
, and, on Swann's recommendation, received a
National Research CouncilNational Research Council may refer to: * National Research Council (Canada), sponsoring research and development * National Research Council (Italy), scientific and technological research, Rome * National Research Council (United States), part of t ...
fellowship. Instead of using it to travel to Europe, as was customary at the time, he remained at Yale University with Swann as a researcher. With
Jesse Beams Jesse Wakefield Beams (December 25, 1898 in Belle Plaine, Kansas – July 23, 1977) was an United States, American physicist at the University of Virginia. Biography Beams completed his undergraduate B.A. in physics at Fairmount College in 1 ...
from the
University of Virginia The University of Virginia (U.Va. or UVA) is a public In public relations and communication science, publics are groups of individual people, and the public (a.k.a. the general public) is the totality of such groupings. This is a diff ...

University of Virginia
, Lawrence continued to research the photoelectric effect. They showed that photoelectrons appeared within 2 x 10−9 seconds of the photons striking the photoelectric surface—close to the limit of measurement at the time. Reducing the emission time by switching the light source on and off rapidly made the spectrum of energy emitted broader, in conformance with
Werner Heisenberg Werner Karl Heisenberg (; ; 5 December 1901 – 1 February 1976) was a German theoretical physicist and one of the key pioneers of quantum mechanics Quantum mechanics is a fundamental Scientific theory, theory in physics that provides a de ...
's
uncertainty principle In quantum mechanics Quantum mechanics is a fundamental Scientific theory, theory in physics that provides a description of the physical properties of nature at the scale of atoms and subatomic particles. It is the foundation of all quant ...

uncertainty principle
.


Early career

In 1926 and 1927, Lawrence received offers of assistant professorships from the
University of Washington The University of Washington (UW, simply Washington, or informally U-Dub) is a public In public relations and communication science, publics are groups of individual people, and the public (a.k.a. the general public) is the totality of s ...

University of Washington
in
Seattle Seattle ( ) is a seaport File:PorticcioloCedas.jpg, The Porticciolo del Cedas port in Barcola near Trieste, a small local port A port is a maritime law, maritime facility which may comprise one or more Wharf, wharves where shi ...

Seattle
and the
University of California The University of California (UC) is a public university, public Land-grant university, land-grant research university, research university system in the U.S. state of California. The system is composed of the campuses at University of Californ ...
at a salary of $3,500 per annum. Yale promptly matched the offer of the assistant professorship, but at a salary of $3,000. Lawrence chose to stay at the more prestigious Yale, but because he had never been an instructor, the appointment was resented by some of his fellow faculty, and in the eyes of many it still did not compensate for his South Dakota immigrant background. Lawrence was hired as an associate professor of physics at the University of California in 1928, and two years later became a full professor, becoming the university's youngest professor.
Robert Gordon Sproul Robert Gordon Sproul (May 22, 1891 – September 10, 1975) was the first system-wide President (1952-1958) of the University of California system, and the last President (11th) of the University of California, Berkeley, serving from 1930 to 1 ...
, who became university president the day after Lawrence became a professor, was a member of the
Bohemian Club The Bohemian Club is a private club with two locations: a city clubhouse in the Union Square district of San Francisco San Francisco (/Help:IPA/English, ˌsæn fɹənˈsɪskoʊ/; Spanish language, Spanish for "Francis of Assisi, Saint Fra ...
, and he sponsored Lawrence's membership in 1932. Through this club, Lawrence met
William Henry Crocker William Henry Crocker I (13 January 1861 – 25 September 1937) was an American banker, the president of Crocker National Bank and a prominent member of the Republican Party (United States), Republican Party. Early life Crocker was born on 19 Janua ...
, Edwin Pauley, and
John Francis Neylan
John Francis Neylan
. They were influential men who helped him obtain money for his energetic nuclear particle investigations. There was great hope for medical uses to come from the development of particle physics, and this led to much of the early funding for advances Lawrence was able to obtain. While at Yale, Lawrence met Mary Kimberly (Molly) Blumer, the eldest of four daughters of George Blumer, the dean of the
Yale School of Medicine The Yale School of Medicine is the graduate medical school A medical school is a tertiary educational institution, or part of such an institution, that teaches medicine, and awards a professional degree for physicians and surgeons. Such medica ...
. They first met in 1926 and became engaged in 1931, and were married on May 14, 1932, at
Trinity Church on the Green Trinity Church on the Green or Trinity on the Green is a historic, culturally and community-active parish A parish is a territorial entity in many Christianity, Christian denominations, constituting a division within a diocese. A parish is under t ...
in
New Haven, Connecticut New Haven is a coastal city in the of . It is located on on the northern shore of in , and is part of the . With a population of 134,023 as determined by the ,{{https://www.census.gov/quickfacts/fact/table/newhavencityconnecticut/POP010220# ...
. They had six children: Eric, Margaret, Mary, Robert, Barbara, and Susan. Lawrence named his son Robert after theoretical physicist
Robert Oppenheimer J. Robert Oppenheimer (; April 22, 1904 – February 18, 1967) was an American theoretical physicist and professor of physics at the University of California, Berkeley. Oppenheimer was the wartime head of the Los Alamos Laboratory and is among ...
, his closest friend in Berkeley. In 1941, Molly's sister Elsie married
Edwin McMillan Edwin Mattison McMillan (September 18, 1907 – September 7, 1991) was an American physicist and Nobel laureate credited with being the first-ever to produce a transuranium element, neptunium. For this, he shared the Nobel Prize in Chemistry with ...
, who would go on to win the
Nobel Prize in Chemistry ) , image = Nobel Prize.png , alt = A golden medallion with an embossed image of a bearded man facing left in profile. To the left of the man is the text "ALFR•" then "NOBEL", and on the right, the text (smaller) "NAT•" then "MD ...
in 1951.


Development of the cyclotron


Invention

The invention that brought Lawrence to international fame started out as a sketch on a scrap of a paper napkin. While sitting in the library one evening in 1929, Lawrence glanced over a journal article by
Rolf Widerøe Rolf Widerøe (11 July 1902 – 11 October 1996) was a Norway, Norwegian accelerator physics, accelerator physicist who was the originator of many particle accelerator, particle acceleration concepts, including the ''resonance accelerator'' and th ...
, and was intrigued by one of the diagrams. This depicted a device that produced high-energy particles by means of a succession of small "pushes". The device depicted was laid out in a straight line using increasingly longer electrodes. At the time, physicists were beginning to explore the
atomic nucleus The atomic nucleus is the small, dense region consisting of s and s at the center of an , discovered in 1911 by based on the 1909 . After the discovery of the neutron in 1932, models for a nucleus composed of protons and neutrons were quickl ...
. In 1919, the New Zealand physicist
Ernest Rutherford Ernest Rutherford, 1st Baron Rutherford of Nelson, (30 August 1871 – 19 October 1937) was a New Zealand-born British physicist A physicist is a scientist A scientist is a person who conducts Scientific method, scientific resea ...
had fired alpha particles into
nitrogen Nitrogen is the chemical element Image:Simple Periodic Table Chart-blocks.svg, 400px, Periodic table, The periodic table of the chemical elements In chemistry, an element is a pure substance consisting only of atoms that all have the same ...

nitrogen
and had succeeded in knocking
proton A proton is a subatomic particle, symbol or , with a positive electric charge of +1''e'' elementary charge and a mass slightly less than that of a neutron. Protons and neutrons, each with masses of approximately one atomic mass unit, are collecti ...

proton
s out of some of the nuclei. But nuclei have a positive charge that repels other positively charged nuclei, and they are bound together tightly by a force that physicists were only just beginning to understand. To break them up, to disintegrate them, would require much higher energies, of the order of millions of volts. Lawrence saw that such a
particle accelerator , a synchrotron collider type particle accelerator at Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory (Fermilab), Batavia, Illinois, USA. Shut down in 2011, until 2007 it was the most powerful particle accelerator in the world, accelerating protons to an en ...
would soon become too long and unwieldy for his university laboratory. In pondering a way to make the accelerator more compact, Lawrence decided to set a circular accelerating chamber between the poles of an electromagnet. The magnetic field would hold the charged protons in a spiral path as they were accelerated between just two semicircular electrodes connected to an alternating potential. After a hundred turns or so, the protons would impact the target as a beam of high-energy particles. Lawrence excitedly told his colleagues that he had discovered a method for obtaining particles of very high energy without the use of any high voltage. He initially worked with Niels Edlefsen. Their first
cyclotron . The magnet is painted yellow. A cyclotron is a type of particle accelerator , a synchrotron collider type particle accelerator at Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory (Fermilab), Batavia, Illinois, USA. Shut down in 2011, until 2007 it wa ...

cyclotron
was made out of brass, wire, and sealing wax and was only four inches (10 cm) in diameter—it could be held in one hand, and probably cost a total of $25. What Lawrence needed to develop the idea was capable graduate students to do the work. Edlefsen left to take up an assistant professorship in September 1930, and Lawrence replaced him with David H. Sloan and , who he set to work on developing Widerøe's accelerator and Edlefsen's cyclotron, respectively. Both had their own financial support. Both designs proved practical, and by May 1931, Sloan's
linear accelerator uses radio waves from a series of RF cavities at the start of the linac to accelerate the electron beam in bunches to energies of 100 MeV. A linear particle accelerator (often shortened to linac) is a type of particle accelerator , a synch ...
was able to accelerate ions to 1 MeV. Livingston had a greater technical challenge, but when he applied 1,800 V to his 11-inch cyclotron on January 2, 1931, he got 80,000-
electron volt In physics Physics (from grc, φυσική (ἐπιστήμη), physikḗ (epistḗmē), knowledge of nature, from ''phýsis'' 'nature'), , is the natural science that studies matter, its Motion (physics), motion and behavior through S ...
protons spinning around. A week later, he had 1.22 MeV with 3,000 V, more than enough for his PhD thesis on its construction.


Development

In what would become a recurring pattern, as soon as there was the first sign of success, Lawrence started planning a new, bigger machine. Lawrence and Livingston drew up a design for a cyclotron in early 1932. The magnet for the $800 11-inch cyclotron weighed 2 tons, but Lawrence found a massive 80-ton magnet rusting in a junkyard in Palo Alto for the 27-inch that had originally been built during World War I to power a transatlantic radio link. In the cyclotron, he had a powerful scientific instrument, but this did not translate into scientific discovery. In April 1932,
John Cockcroft Sir John Douglas Cockcroft, (27 May 1897 – 18 September 1967) was a British physicist who shared with Ernest Walton the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1951 for splitting the atomic nucleus The atomic nucleus is the small, dense region ...
and
Ernest Walton Ernest Thomas Sinton Walton (6 October 1903 – 25 June 1995) was an Ireland, Irish physicist and Nobel Prize for Physics, Nobel laureate for his work with John Cockcroft with "Cockcroft–Walton generator, atom-smashing" experiments done at Camb ...

Ernest Walton
at the in England announced that they had bombarded
lithium Lithium (from el, λίθος, lithos, lit=stone) is a chemical element Image:Simple Periodic Table Chart-blocks.svg, 400px, Periodic table, The periodic table of the chemical elements In chemistry, an element is a pure substance consist ...

lithium
with
proton A proton is a subatomic particle, symbol or , with a positive electric charge of +1''e'' elementary charge and a mass slightly less than that of a neutron. Protons and neutrons, each with masses of approximately one atomic mass unit, are collecti ...

proton
s and succeeded in transmuting it into
helium Helium (from el, ἥλιος, helios Helios; Homeric Greek: ), Latinized as Helius; Hyperion and Phaethon are also the names of his father and son respectively. often given the epithets Hyperion ("the one above") and Phaethon ("the shining") ...

helium
. The energy required turned out to be quite low—well within the capability of the 11-inch cyclotron. On learning about it, Lawrence sent a wire to Berkeley and asked for Cockcroft and Walton's results to be verified. It took the team until September to do so, mainly due to lack of adequate detection apparatus. Although important discoveries continued to elude Lawrence's
Radiation LaboratoryThe Radiation Laboratory, commonly called the Rad Lab, was a microwave Microwave is a form of electromagnetic radiation with wavelength In physics Physics (from grc, φυσική (ἐπιστήμη), physikḗ (epistḗmē), knowledg ...
, mainly due to its focus on the development of the cyclotron rather than its scientific use, through his increasingly larger machines, Lawrence was able to provide crucial equipment needed for experiments in
high energy physics Particle physics (also known as high energy physics) is a branch of physics Physics (from grc, φυσική (ἐπιστήμη), physikḗ (epistḗmē), knowledge of nature, from ''phýsis'' 'nature'), , is the natural science that ...
. Around this device, he built what became the world's foremost laboratory for the new field of nuclear physics research in the 1930s. He received a
patent A patent is a type of intellectual property that gives its owner the legal right to exclude others from making, using, or selling an invention for a limited period of years in exchange for publishing an sufficiency of disclosure, enabling disclo ...

patent
for the cyclotron in 1934, which he assigned to the
Research Corporation Research Corporation for Science Advancement (RCSA) is an organization in the United States The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US), or America, is a country Contiguous United States, primarily l ...
, a private foundation that funded much of Lawrence's early work. In February 1936,
Harvard University Harvard University is a private Private or privates may refer to: Music * "In Private "In Private" was the third single in a row to be a charting success for United Kingdom, British singer Dusty Springfield, after an absence of nearly tw ...

Harvard University
's president,
James B. Conant James Bryant Conant (March 26, 1893 – February 11, 1978) was an American chemist A chemist (from Greek ''chēm(ía)'' alchemy; replacing ''chymist'' from Medieval Latin ''alchemist'') is a scientist A scientist is a person who conduc ...
, made attractive offers to Lawrence and Oppenheimer. The University of California's president,
Robert Gordon Sproul Robert Gordon Sproul (May 22, 1891 – September 10, 1975) was the first system-wide President (1952-1958) of the University of California system, and the last President (11th) of the University of California, Berkeley, serving from 1930 to 1 ...
, responded by improving conditions. The Radiation Laboratory became an official department of the University of California on July 1, 1936, with Lawrence formally appointed its director, with a full-time assistant director, and the University agreed to make $20,000 a year available for its research activities. Lawrence employed a simple business model: "He staffed his laboratory with graduate students and junior faculty of the physics department, with fresh Ph.D.s willing to work for anything, and with fellowship holders and wealthy guests able to serve for nothing."


Reception

Using the new 27-inch cyclotron, the team at Berkeley discovered that every element that they bombarded with recently discovered
deuterium Deuterium (or hydrogen-2, symbol or deuterium, also known as heavy hydrogen) is one of two stable isotopes The term stable isotope has a meaning similar to stable nuclide, but is preferably used when speaking of nuclides of a specific elemen ...

deuterium
emitted energy, and in the same range. They, therefore, postulated the existence of a new and hitherto unknown particle that was a possible source of limitless energy. of ''
The New York Times ''The New York Times'' (''NYT'' or ''NY Times'') is an American daily newspaper based in New York City with a worldwide readership. Founded in 1851, the ''Times'' has since won List of Pulitzer Prizes awarded to The New York Times, 130 Pulit ...

The New York Times
'' described Lawrence as "a new miracle worker of science". At Cockcroft's invitation, Lawrence attended the 1933 Solvay Conference in Belgium. This was a regular gathering of the world's top physicists. Nearly all were from Europe, but occasionally an outstanding American scientist like
Robert A. Millikan Robert Andrews Millikan (March 22, 1868 – December 19, 1953) was an American experimental physicist A physicist is a scientist A scientist is a person who conducts Scientific method, scientific research to advance knowledge in an Branch ...
or Arthur Compton would be invited to attend. Lawrence was asked to give a presentation on the cyclotron. Lawrence's claims of limitless energy met a very different reception in Solvay. He ran into withering skepticism from the Cavendish Laboratory's James Chadwick, the physicist who had discovered the neutron in 1932, for which he was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1935. In a British accent that sounded condescending to American ears, Chadwick suggested that what Lawrence's team was observing was contamination of their apparatus. When he returned to Berkeley, Lawrence mobilized his team to go painstakingly over the results to gather enough evidence to convince Chadwick. Meanwhile, at the Cavendish laboratory, Rutherford and Mark Oliphant found that deuterium Nuclear fusion, fuses to form helium-3, which causes the effect that the cyclotroneers had observed. Not only was Chadwick correct in that they had been observing contamination, but they had overlooked yet another important discovery, that of nuclear fusion. Lawrence's response was to press on with the creation of still larger cyclotrons. The 27-inch cyclotron was superseded by a 37-inch cyclotron in June 1937, which in turn was superseded by a 60-inch cyclotron in May 1939. It was used to bombard iron and produced its first radioactive isotopes in June. As it was easier to raise money for medical purposes, particularly cancer treatment, than for nuclear physics, Lawrence encouraged the use of the cyclotron for medical research. Working with his brother John and Israel Lyon Chaikoff from the University of California's Physiology Department, Lawrence supported research into the use of radioactive isotopes for therapeutic purposes. Phosphorus-32 was easily produced in the cyclotron, and John used it to cure a woman afflicted with polycythemia vera, a blood disease. John used phosphorus-32 created in the 37-inch cyclotron in 1938 in tests on mice with leukemia. He found that the radioactive phosphorus concentrated in the fast-growing cancer cells. This then led to clinical trials on human patients. A 1948 evaluation of the therapy showed that remissions occurred under certain circumstances. Lawrence also had hoped for the medical use of neutrons. The first cancer patient received neutron therapy from the 60-inch cyclotron on November 20. Chaikoff conducted trials on the use of radioactive isotopes as radioactive tracers to explore the mechanism of biochemical reactions. Lawrence was awarded the
Nobel Prize in Physics ) , image = Nobel Prize.png , alt = A golden medallion with an embossed image of a bearded man facing left in profile. To the left of the man is the text "ALFR•" then "NOBEL", and on the right, the text (smaller) "NAT•" then "M ...
in November 1939 "for the invention and development of the cyclotron and for results obtained with it, especially with regard to artificial radioactive elements". He was the first at Berkeley as well as the first South Dakotan to become a Nobel Laureate, and the first to be so honored while at a state-supported university. The Nobel award ceremony was held on February 29, 1940, in Berkeley, California, due to
World War II World War II or the Second World War, often abbreviated as WWII or WW2, was a that lasted from 1939 to 1945. It involved —including all of the great powers—forming two opposing s: the and the . In a total war directly involving m ...
, in the auditorium of Wheeler Hall on the campus of the university. Lawrence received his medal from Carl E. Wallerstedt, Sweden's Consul General in San Francisco. Robert W. Wood wrote to Lawrence and presciently noted "As you are laying the foundations for the cataclysmic explosion of uranium ... I'm sure old Nobel would approve." In March 1940, Arthur Compton, Vannevar Bush,
James B. Conant James Bryant Conant (March 26, 1893 – February 11, 1978) was an American chemist A chemist (from Greek ''chēm(ía)'' alchemy; replacing ''chymist'' from Medieval Latin ''alchemist'') is a scientist A scientist is a person who conduc ...
, Karl T. Compton, and Alfred Lee Loomis traveled to Berkeley to discuss Lawrence's proposal for a 184-inch cyclotron with a 4,500-ton magnet that was estimated to cost $2.65 million. The Rockefeller Foundation put up $1.15 million to get the project started.


World War II and the Manhattan Project


Radiation Laboratory

After the outbreak of
World War II World War II or the Second World War, often abbreviated as WWII or WW2, was a that lasted from 1939 to 1945. It involved —including all of the great powers—forming two opposing s: the and the . In a total war directly involving m ...
in Europe, Lawrence became drawn into military projects. He helped recruit staff for the MIT Radiation Laboratory, where American physicists developed the cavity magnetron invented by Oliphant's team in Britain. The name of the new laboratory was deliberately copied from Lawrence's laboratory in Berkeley for security reasons. He also became involved in recruiting staff for underwater sound laboratories to develop techniques for detecting German submarines. Meanwhile, work continued at Berkeley with cyclotrons. In December 1940, Glenn T. Seaborg and Emilio Segrè used the cyclotron to bombard uranium-238 with deuterons producing a new element, neptunium-238, which decayed by beta emission to form plutonium-238. One of its isotopes, plutonium-239, could undergo nuclear fission which provided another way to make an atomic bomb. Lawrence offered Segrè a job as a research assistant—a relatively lowly position for someone who had discovered an element—for US$300 a month for six months. However, when Lawrence learned that Segrè was legally trapped in California, he reduced Segrè's salary to US$116 a month. When the regents of the University of California wanted to terminate Segrè's employment owing to his foreign nationality, Lawrence managed to retain Segrè by hiring him as a part-time lecturer paid by the Rockefeller Foundation. Similar arrangements were made to retain his doctoral students Chien-Shiung Wu (a Chinese national) and Kenneth Ross MacKenzie (a Canadian national) when they graduated. In September 1941, Oliphant met with Lawrence and Oppenheimer at Berkeley, where they showed him the site for the new cyclotron. Oliphant, in turn, took the Americans to task for not following up the recommendations of the British MAUD Committee, which advocated a program to develop an atomic bomb. Lawrence had already thought about the problem of separating the fissile isotope uranium-235 from uranium-238, a process known today as uranium enrichment. Separating uranium isotopes was difficult because the two isotopes have very nearly identical chemical properties, and could only be separated gradually using their small mass differences. Separating isotopes with a
mass spectrometer Mass spectrometry (MS) is an analytical technique that is used to measure the mass-to-charge ratio of ions. The results are presented as a ''mass spectrum'', a plot of intensity as a function of the mass-to-charge ratio. Mass spectrometry is used i ...
was a technique Oliphant had pioneered with
lithium Lithium (from el, λίθος, lithos, lit=stone) is a chemical element Image:Simple Periodic Table Chart-blocks.svg, 400px, Periodic table, The periodic table of the chemical elements In chemistry, an element is a pure substance consist ...

lithium
in 1934. Lawrence began converting his old 37-inch cyclotron into a giant mass spectrometer. On his recommendation, the director of the
Manhattan Project The Manhattan Project was a research and development Research is " creative and systematic work undertaken to increase the stock of knowledge". It involves the collection, organization, and analysis of information to increase understa ...
, Brigadier General (United States), Brigadier General Leslie R. Groves, Jr., appointed Oppenheimer as head of its Los Alamos Laboratory in New Mexico. While the Radiation laboratory developed the electromagnetic uranium enrichment process, the Los Alamos Laboratory designed and constructed the atomic bombs. Like the Radiation Laboratory, it was run by the University of California. Electromagnetic isotope separation used devices known as
calutron A calutron is a mass spectrometer Mass spectrometry (MS) is an analytical technique that is used to measure the mass-to-charge ratio of ions. The results are presented as a ''mass spectrum'', a plot of intensity as a function of the mass-to-cha ...
s, a hybrid of two laboratory instruments, the mass spectrometer and cyclotron. The name was derived from "California university cyclotrons". In November 1943, Lawrence's team at Berkeley was bolstered by 29 British scientists, including Oliphant. In the electromagnetic process, a magnetic field deflected charged particles according to mass. The process was neither scientifically elegant nor industrially efficient. Compared with a gaseous diffusion plant or a nuclear reactor, an electromagnetic separation plant would consume more scarce materials, require more manpower to operate, and cost more to build. Nonetheless, the process was approved because it was based on proven technology and therefore represented less risk. Moreover, it could be built in stages, and would rapidly reach industrial capacity.


Oak Ridge

Responsibility for the design and construction of the electromagnetic separation plant at
Oak Ridge, Tennessee Oak Ridge is a city in Anderson County, Tennessee, Anderson and Roane County, Tennessee, Roane counties in the East Tennessee, eastern part of the U.S. state of Tennessee, about west of downtown Knoxville, Tennessee, Knoxville. Oak Ridge's popula ...
, which came to be called Y-12, was assigned to Stone & Webster. The calutrons, using 14,700 tons of silver, were manufactured by Allis-Chalmers in Milwaukee and shipped to Oak Ridge. The design called for five first-stage processing units, known as Alpha racetracks, and two units for final processing, known as Beta racetracks. In September 1943 Groves authorized construction of four more racetracks, known as Alpha II. When the plant was started up for testing on schedule in October 1943, the 14-ton vacuum tanks crept out of alignment because of the power of the magnets and had to be fastened more securely. A more serious problem arose when the magnetic coils started shorting out. In December Groves ordered a magnet to be broken open, and handfuls of rust were found inside. Groves then ordered the racetracks to be torn down and the magnets sent back to the factory to be cleaned. A pickling plant was established on-site to clean the pipes and fittings. Tennessee Eastman was hired to manage Y-12. Y-12 initially enriched the uranium-235 content to between 13% and 15%, and shipped the first few hundred grams of this to Los Alamos laboratory in March 1944. Only 1 part in 5,825 of the uranium feed emerged as final product. The rest was splattered over equipment in the process. Strenuous recovery efforts helped raise production to 10% of the uranium-235 feed by January 1945. In February the Alpha racetracks began receiving slightly enriched (1.4%) feed from the new S-50 (Manhattan Project), S-50 thermal diffusion plant. The next month it received enhanced (5%) feed from the K-25 gaseous diffusion plant. By April 1945 K-25 was producing uranium sufficiently enriched to feed directly into the Beta tracks. On July 16, 1945, Lawrence observed the Trinity nuclear test of the first atomic bomb with Chadwick and Charles A. Thomas. Few were more excited at its success than Lawrence. The question of how to use the now functional weapon on Japan became an issue for the scientists. While Oppenheimer favored no demonstration of the power of the new weapon to Japanese leaders, Lawrence felt strongly that a demonstration would be wise. When a uranium bomb was used without warning in the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, Lawrence felt great pride in his accomplishment. Lawrence hoped that the Manhattan Project would develop improved calutrons and construct Alpha III racetracks, but they were judged to be uneconomical. The Alpha tracks were closed down in September 1945. Although performing better than ever, they could not compete with K-25 and the new K-27, which commenced operation in January 1946. In December, the Y-12 plant was closed, thereby cutting the Tennessee Eastman payroll from 8,600 to 1,500 and saving $2 million a month. Staff numbers at the Radiation laboratory fell from 1,086 in May 1945 to 424 by the end of the year.


Post-war career


Big Science

After the war, Lawrence campaigned extensively for government sponsorship of large scientific programs. He was a forceful advocate of Big Science with its requirements for big machines and big money, and in 1946 he asked the Manhattan Project for over $2 million for research at the Radiation Laboratory. Groves approved the money, but cut a number of programs, including Seaborg's proposal for a "hot" radiation laboratory in densely populated Berkeley, and John Lawrence's for production of medical isotopes, because this need could now be better met from nuclear reactors. One obstacle was the University of California, which was eager to divest its wartime military obligations. Lawrence and Groves managed to persuade Sproul to accept a contract extension. In 1946, the Manhattan Project spent $7 on physics at the University of California for every dollar spent by the University. The 184-inch cyclotron was completed with wartime dollars from the Manhattan Project. It incorporated new ideas by Ed McMillan, and was completed as a synchrocyclotron. It commenced operation on November 13, 1946. For the first time since 1935, Lawrence actively participated in the experiments, working with Eugene Gardner in an unsuccessful attempt to create recently discovered pi mesons with the synchrotron. César Lattes then used the apparatus they had created to find negative pi mesons in 1948. Responsibility for the United States Department of Energy national laboratories, national laboratories passed to the newly created United States Atomic Energy Commission, Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) on January 1, 1947. That year, Lawrence asked for $15 million for his projects, which included a new linear accelerator and a new gigaelectronvolt synchrotron which became known as the bevatron. The University of California's contract to run the Los Alamos laboratory was due to expire on July 1, 1948, and some board members wished to divest the university of the responsibility for running a site outside California. After some negotiation, the university agreed to extend the contract for what was now the Los Alamos National Laboratory for four more years and to appoint Norris Bradbury, who had replaced Oppenheimer as its director in October 1945, as a professor. Soon after, Lawrence received all the funds he had requested. Notwithstanding the fact that he voted for Franklin Roosevelt, Lawrence was a Republican Party (United States), Republican, who had strongly disapproved of Oppenheimer's efforts before the war to unionize the Radiation Laboratory workers, which Lawrence considered "leftwandering activities". Lawrence considered political activity to be a waste of time better spent in scientific research, and preferred that it be kept out of the Radiation Laboratory. In the chilly Cold War climate of the post-war University of California, Lawrence accepted the House Un-American Activities Committee's actions as legitimate, and did not see them as indicative of a systemic problem involving academic freedom or human rights. He was protective of individuals in his laboratory, but even more protective of the reputation of the laboratory. He was forced to defend Radiation Laboratory staff members like Robert Serber who were investigated by the University's Personnel Security Board. In several cases, he issued character references in support of staff. However, Lawrence barred Robert Oppenheimer's brother Frank Oppenheimer, Frank from the Radiation Laboratory, damaging his relationship with Robert. An acrimonious loyalty oath campaign at the University of California also drove away faculty members. When hearings were held to revoke Robert Oppenheimer's security clearance, Lawrence declined to attend on account of illness, but a transcript in which he was critical of Oppenheimer was presented in his absence. Lawrence's success in building a creative, collaborative laboratory was undermined by the ill-feeling and distrust resulting from political tensions.


Thermonuclear weapons

Lawrence was alarmed by the Soviet Union's RDS-1, first nuclear test in August 1949. The proper response, he concluded, was an all-out effort to build a bigger nuclear weapon: the hydrogen bomb. Lawrence proposed to use accelerators instead of nuclear reactors to produce the neutrons needed to create the tritium the bomb required, as well as plutonium, which was more difficult, as much higher energies would be required. He first proposed the construction of Mark I, a prototype $7 million, 25 MeV
linear accelerator uses radio waves from a series of RF cavities at the start of the linac to accelerate the electron beam in bunches to energies of 100 MeV. A linear particle accelerator (often shortened to linac) is a type of particle accelerator , a synch ...
, codenamed Materials Test Accelerator (MTA). He was soon talking about a new, even larger MTA known as the Mark II, which could produce tritium or plutonium from depleted uranium-238. Serber and Segrè attempted in vain to explain the technical problems that made it impractical, but Lawrence felt that they were being unpatriotic. Lawrence strongly backed
Edward Teller Edward Teller ( hu, Teller Ede; January 15, 1908 – September 9, 2003) was a Hungarian-American Hungarian Americans (Hungarian language, Hungarian: ''amerikai magyarok'') are United States, Americans of Hungarian people, Hungarian ...
's campaign for a second nuclear weapons laboratory, which Lawrence proposed to locate with the MTA Mark I at
Livermore, California Livermore (formerly Livermores, Livermore Ranch, and Nottingham) is a city in Alameda County, California, in the United States. With an estimated 2019 population of 90,189, Livermore is the most populous city in the Tri-Valley. Livermore is loca ...
. Lawrence and Teller had to argue their case not only with the Atomic Energy Commission, which did not want it, and the Los Alamos National Laboratory, which was implacably opposed but with proponents who felt that Chicago was the more obvious site for it. The new laboratory at Livermore was finally approved on July 17, 1952, but the Mark II MTA was canceled. By this time, the Atomic Energy Commission had spent $45 million on the Mark I, which had commenced operation, but was mainly used to produce polonium for the nuclear weapons program. Meanwhile, the Brookhaven National Laboratory's Cosmotron had generated a 1 GeV beam.


Death and legacy

In addition to the Nobel Prize, Lawrence received the Elliott Cresson Medal and the Hughes Medal in 1937, the Comstock Prize in Physics in 1938, the Duddell Medal and Prize in 1940, the Holley Medal in 1942, the Medal for Merit in 1946, the William Procter Prize for Scientific Achievement, William Procter Prize in 1951, Faraday Medal in 1952, and the Enrico Fermi Award from the Atomic Energy Commission in 1957. He was made an Legion d'Honneur, Officer of the Legion d'Honneur in 1948, and was the first recipient of the Sylvanus Thayer Award by the United States Military Academy, US Military Academy in 1958. In July 1958, President Dwight D. Eisenhower asked Lawrence to travel to Geneva, Switzerland, to help negotiate a proposed Partial Nuclear Test Ban Treaty with the Soviet Union. AEC Chairman Lewis Strauss had pressed for Lawrence's inclusion. The two men had argued the case for the development of the hydrogen bomb, and Strauss had helped raise funds for Lawrence's cyclotron in 1939. Strauss was keen to have Lawrence as part of the Geneva delegation because Lawrence was known to favor continued nuclear testing. Despite suffering from a serious flare-up of his chronic ulcerative colitis, Lawrence decided to go, but he became ill while in Geneva, and was rushed back to the hospital at Stanford University. Surgeons Ileostomy, removed much of his large intestine, but found other problems, including severe atherosclerosis in one of his arteries. He died in Palo Alto Hospital on August 27, 1958, nineteen days after his 57th birthday. Molly did not want a public funeral but agreed to a memorial service at the First Congregationalist Church in Berkeley. University of California President Clark Kerr delivered the eulogy. Just 23 days after his death, the
Regents of the University of California The Regents of the University of California (also referred to as the Board of Regents to distinguish the board from the corporation it governs of that exact same name) is the governing board of the University of California#REDIRECT University of ...
voted to rename two of the university's nuclear research sites after Lawrence: the
Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) is a federal research facility in Livermore, California Livermore (formerly Livermores, Livermore Ranch, and Nottingham) is a city in Alameda County, California, in the United States. With an es ...
and the
Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL), commonly referred to as Berkeley Lab, is a United States national laboratory that conducts scientific research on behalf of the Department of EnergyA Ministry of Energy or Department of Energy is a ...
. The Ernest Orlando Lawrence Award was established in his memory in 1959. Chemical element number 103, discovered at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in 1961, was named
lawrencium Lawrencium is a syntheticA synthetic is an artificial material produced by organic chemistry, organic chemical synthesis. Synthetic may also refer to: In the sense of both "combination" and "artificial" * Synthetic chemical or synthetic comp ...

lawrencium
after him. In 1968 the Lawrence Hall of Science public science education center was established in his honor. His papers are in the Bancroft Library at the University of California in Berkeley. In the 1980s, Lawrence's widow petitioned the University of California Board of Regents on several occasions to remove her husband's name from the Livermore Laboratory, due to its focus on nuclear weapons Lawrence helped build, but was denied each time. She outlived her husband by more than 44 years and died in Walnut Creek, California, at the age of 92 on January 6, 2003. George B. Kauffman wrote that:


Notes


References

* * * * * * * * * * *


External links


Ernest O. Lawrence Annotated Bibliography for Ernest Lawrence from the Alsos Digital Library for Nuclear Issues

Lawrence and the Cyclotron: AIP History Center Web Exhibit



''Lawrence and His Laboratory: A Historian's View of the Lawrence Years''
* Lawrence Livermore Lab

* * Nobel-Winners.com

* {{DEFAULTSORT:Lawrence, Ernest Ernest Lawrence, 1901 births 1958 deaths 20th-century American physicists American Nobel laureates Accelerator physicists American nuclear physicists Enrico Fermi Award recipients Experimental physicists Manhattan Project people Nobel laureates in Physics American people of Norwegian descent People from Canton, South Dakota University of California, Berkeley faculty University of Chicago alumni University of Minnesota College of Science and Engineering alumni University of South Dakota alumni Yale University alumni Fellows of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences Foreign Fellows of the Indian National Science Academy Medal for Merit recipients Officiers of the Légion d'honneur Mass spectrometrists American people of World War II Fellows of the American Physical Society