Michael Nitschke with his detection apparatus at the HILAC in the 1980s.
Posts Tagged ‘History’
Base camp at Mount Everest, 18,000 feet above sea level, was the site of a remarkable 1968 study of red-cell stimulation at high altitudes. Lab researcher Will Siri (right) is shown conducting a count of radioactive iron, using a portable scintillation counter. The subject is fellow climber James Lester, while Gilbert Roberts assists Siri with the apparatus.
[California Magazine] Let the other universities brand themselves with the presidents they’ve produced, the corporations they’ve midwifed, their location in a small town outside of Boston, or their number one football team. At Berkeley, we’re OK with being number 97. On the periodic table of elements. Yup. Good ol‘ 97, berkelium, Bk for short. Or you could look us up under number 98, californium. And then there’s seaborgium, lawrencium, astatine, and on and on. Berkeley and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory can claim 16 elements. That’s about 14 percent of the known periodic table that’s ours, indisputably. More>
Luis Alvarez in his lab around 1938, just before his work leading to the identification of helium-3. Alvarez won a Nobel prize 1968, recognized for “his decisive contributions to elementary particle physics, in particular the discovery of a large number of resonance states, made possible through his development of the technique of using hydrogen bubble chamber and data analysis.” More>
Franz Kurie has a bit of fun in this 1938 photo, making it look like he’s single-handedly holding up one of the magnetic poles for the 60-inch cyclotron. Kurie joined the Lab after earning his Ph.D. at Yale, where he showed that the neutron was neither a dumb-bell-shaped combination of proton and electron, nor an onion-shaped combination of an electron embracing the proton. Consequently, and until the discovery of the quark structure of hadrons, the neutron was assumed to be an elementary particle. His Kurie plot is used in the study of beta decay. Kurie died in 1972.
In an interesting coincidence, Franz Kurie was the great uncle of current NERSC employee Kathy Kincaid. Her grandmother’s sister Dottie (on her dad’s side) was married to Kurie. She apparently also worked at the Lab. Here’s a photo of her from 1938.
The Controlled Thermonuclear Research Computer Center — now known as NERSC — was established in 1974 and unveiled its first supercomputer that same year: a Control Data Corporation 6600 “borrowed” from the weapons program at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. When introduced in 1964, the CDC 6600 was considered the fastest computer in the world, computing about 1 million calculations per second. Compare that to the iPad-2, which performs about 1.65 billion calculations per second. Go here for more on the history of NERSC, which celebrates its 40th anniversary this year.
While the nearly eight inches of rain earlier this month at Berkeley Lab more than quadrupled the season total, cumulative precipitation levels following these storms have only now just inched above the driest years on record in California. Here is a plot of historical cumulative precipitation levels at the Lab and a similar plot recorded by the Department of Water Resource for a series of monitoring sites in the northern Sierra. Sustainable Berkeley Lab is working to develop appropriate responses to the current drought and to meet long-term water conservation goals. We will share more details with the Lab community as they are firmed up.
This photo taken in 1936 atop the magnet of the 60-inch cyclotron in 1936 includes some of the era’s heaviest scientific hitters, including (top row) Luis Alvarez, (fifth from left), Edwin McMillan (10th from left), Robert Oppenheimer (13th from left), and E.O. Lawrence himself (bottom, fourth from left). The 60-inch cyclotron began operation in 1939 and produced 16 MeV deuterons. The magnet weighed about 220 tons. Experiments on the machine helped garner Nobel prizes for Glenn Seaborg and Melvin Calvin. More>
The photo depicts Norm Phillips operating a glassblower at the Lab in 1959. Glassblowers shaped and delicately manipulated glass for the specific research needs of researchers. By 1970, new metals were preferred over glass for making scientific equipment. Go here for a story on the Lab and UC Berkeley’s last glass blower.