Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

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The Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab), is a U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) national laboratory conducting unclassified scientific research. It is located on the grounds of the University of California, Berkeley, in the Berkeley Hills above the central campus. It is managed and operated by the University of California for the DOE.[1]



The laboratory was founded as the Radiation Laboratory of the University of California, associated with the Physics Department, on August 26, 1931 by Ernest Orlando Lawrence as a site for centering physics research around his new instrument, the cyclotron (a type of particle accelerator for which he won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1939).[2] Throughout the 1930s, Lawrence pushed to create larger and larger machines for physics research, courting private philanthropists for funding. After the laboratory was scooped on a number of fundamental discoveries that they felt they ought to have made, the "cyclotroneers" began to collaborate more closely with the theoretical physicists in the Berkeley Department of Physics, led by Robert Oppenheimer. The lab moved to its site on the hill above campus in 1940 as its machines (specifically, the 184-inch (4.7 m) cyclotron) became too big to house on the university grounds.[2]

Lawrence courted government as his sponsor in the early years of the Manhattan Project, the American effort to produce the first atomic bomb during World War II, and along with Applied Physics Laboratory at Johns Hopkins (which helped develop the proximity fuse), and the MIT Radiation Laboratory (which helped to develop radar) ushered in the era of "Big Science". Lawrence's lab helped contribute to what has been judged to be the three most valuable technology developments of the war (the atomic bomb, proximity fuse, and radar). Using the newly created 184-inch (4,700 mm) cyclotron as a mass spectrometer, Lawrence and his colleagues developed the principle behind the electromagnetic enrichment of uranium, which was put to use in the calutrons (named after the university) at the massive Y-12 facility in Oak Ridge, Tennessee (ORNL). The 184-inch (4,700 mm) cyclotron was finished in November 1946; the Manhattan Project shut down two months later.

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