Berkeley Lab archivist Karen Nelson uncovered the moon dust—about 20 vials with handwritten labels and dated “24 July 1970”—last month while reviewing and clearing out artifacts from Berkeley Lab’s warehouse. Along with the jar was a copy of the paper “Study of carbon compounds in Apollo 11 and Apollo 12 returned lunar samples,” published in the Proceedings of the Second Lunar Science Conference in 1971. Among the five co-authors, all from the Space Sciences Laboratory, is Melvin Calvin, who was also an associate director of Berkeley Lab (then known as Ernest O. Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory) and 1961 winner of the Nobel Prize in Chemistry. More>
Posts Tagged ‘History’
Last month, Marilee Bailey of the IT Division was rummaging through a refrigerator unit that housed old negatives of Lab photographs, as part of an archiving project. She came across some images showing the construction of a “cyclodrome,” a one-quarter sized working model E.O. Lawrence had built to test the concept of the Bevatron. Work on the model began in 1948 and was completed in 1949 at a cost of $200K. It was located on what was called the Wilson Tract, just northwest of the 184” Cyclotron (now the Advanced Light Source). It was dismantled in 1950. Go here to watch video at a higher resolution. Go here to see additional photos and the letters authorizing the construction.
Fifty-two years ago this month, Lab scientist Albert Ghiorso did something very few scientists ever get to – he added an element to the periodic table. In this image Ghiorso (second from left) inscribes “Lw” in space 103 of the periodic table as co-discoverers look on. Lawrencium (Lw) was first synthesized Feb. 14, 1961, by a team led by Ghiorso, who was co-discoverer of a record 12 chemical elements on the periodic table. More>
Seventy-five years after one of Ernest Lawrence’s first working cyclotrons was handed to the London Science Museum, it has returned to the Lab. On Jan. 9, 1932, the brass cyclotron — 26 inches from end to end and whose accelerating chamber measures just 11 inches in diameter — was successfully used to boost protons to energies of 1.22 million electron volts. Its return to Berkeley Lab caps a decades-long saga in which various parties endeavored to secure the cyclotron’s return from London, but the persistence of Public Affair’s Pamela Patterson finally paid off. Pictured are physicists Robert Cahn and Natalie Roe. More>
In this 1939 photo, Eric and Margaret Lawrence are sitting inside the tank of something called the 60-inch cyclotron — a machine invented by their father, Ernest Lawrence. The cyclotron is a unique circular particle accelerator, which Lawrence himself referred to as a “proton merry-go-round.” In reality, the cyclotron specialized in smashing atoms. This cyclotron contained a magnet that weighed 220 tons, and experiments conducted on this very machine led to the discovery of plutonium and Nobel Prizes for researchers Glenn Seaborg and Melvin Calvin.
How plants use carbon dioxide is at the heart of biology, but it wasn’t until Andrew Benson got together with Berkeley Lab’s Melvin Calvin in the years following World War II, that the process was elucidated. Ernest Lawrence saw the research potential of carbon-14, a radioactive isotope that became available after the war, and encouraged Calvin to apply it to photosynthesis. Calvin, in turn, hired Benson. The pair conducted seminal work on the problem from 1946 to 1954, and, together with many collaborators, revealed how CO2 functions in plants. More>
Chu Road is steep and the Horseshoe curve is tight, but imagine taking it at 60 miles-an-hour after soaring off an 85-foot high ski jump near what is now the Lab’s main bus stop. In January of 1935, when Lawrence’s lab was going strong on campus but hadn’t yet moved onto the Hill, a band of intrepid skiers trucked in six boxcars of snow to help promote skiing in the Sierra. Alyse Jacobson of the Materials Sciences Division found a video that proved an old story her husband, Tom Mikkelsen, had heard from his father and uncle, Halvor and Roy, the star jumpers. More>
Four American scientists have been honored on Forever stamps issued by the U.S. Postal Service. The distinguished scientists are: chemist Melvin Calvin, botanist Asa Gray, physicist Maria Goeppert Mayer, and biochemist Severo Ochoa. Calvin was a Berkeley Lab scientist when he won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1961 for work in mapping the route that carbon travels through a plant during the photosynthesis process. He also conducted pioneering research on using plants as an alternative energy source. These stamps are the third in the American Scientists series. More>
[New York Times] For hundreds of years, the image of a skull and crossbones was all we needed to communicate the concept of poison. That is, until we started experimenting with radioactive compounds. The symbol we commonly associate with radiation or radioactive materials was devised in late 1946 by an unspecified group of individuals working at UC Berkeley’s Radiation Laboratory (now Berkeley Lab). At the time, the negative effects of radiation were only beginning to be understood well enough to warrant any kind of warning label. In fact, the symbol was originally intended only for local use at Berkeley, primarily in the form of hang tags (pictured) and stickers. More>