Lab honors Lawrence and his legacy

Aug. 10, 2001

Lab honors Lawrence and his legacy


There wasn’t any cake, but plenty of people were on hand to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the birth of Lab founder Ernest O. Lawrence.
The ceremony was held Wednesday in the Visitors Center. NAI Associate Director Wayne Shotts opened the event by commenting on Lawrence’s life and legacies. He also introduced Lawrence’s daughter, Mary Lawrence Prud’-homme, and her husband, Anthony.

“You can’t talk about Lawrence without talking about the cyclotron,” Shotts said. “This elegant device, not much more than a container with connections sealed with red wax, led to some great things.” Those great things included a Nobel Prize in physics for Lawrence in 1939 and support for the American nuclear program during World War II.

Shotts took time to highlight Lawrence’s career, spotlighting the evolution of the handheld cyclotron to the eventual 184-inch cyclotron built at what would become the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. Lawrence’s invention would pave the way for nuclear research.

The E.O. Lawrence Award was established, in 1959, in Lawrence’s honor, to recognize exceptional contributions to the development, use or control of nuclear energy. Shotts, himself a Lawrence Award winner, recognized several of the Lab’s other award winners in the audience, including Dick Fortner, Grant Logan, Bill Lokke, Seymour Sack, Lowell Wood and George Zimmerman.

Other medal winners attending included Rulon Linford, assistant vice provost of the University of California, and Tom Cook of Sandia-Livermore.
“I’m sure that Lawrence’s work serves as an encouragement to others to follow in his footsteps,” Shotts said of the memorial award.

John McTague, the University of California’s vice president for Laboratory Management, read a letter from UC President Richard Atkinson in honor of the event. Atkinson remarked that “Lawrence stands out as one of the UC’s most distinguished scholars, and certainly its most notable physicist.”
“We have these remarkable labs which have prospered over the years by attracting the best people to them,” McTague said. “That’s Lawrence’s legacy — 100 years later, he’s still attracting the best people to him.”

Deputy Director Jeff Wadsworth continued the program by reading a letter of congratulations from the administrator of the National Nuclear Security Administration, Gen. John Gordon. He also read a resolution from the Livermore City Council commending the Lab for its work in science and in the community.

“Lawrence insisted on academic and scientific excellence, and emphasis on big science, a team approach, and the merging of basic science with practical engineering,” Wadsworth said. “Director Bruce Tarter likes to say ‘It’s still Lawrence’s Lab’.”

After Wadsworth spoke, new displays chronicling Lawrence’s life and highlighting the Lawrence award winners were unveiled. To close the event, Lawrence’s daughter Mary said a few words about her father.

“My father would spend his days in Berkeley and his nights out here working,” Prud’homme recalled. “It’s very gratifying to know that both the Livermore and Berkeley labs have flourished and grown since my father worked here.”

The displays of Lawrence and the E.O. Lawrence Award winners will be on exhibit in the Visitors Center for the next month. The Visitors Center (Bldg. 651) is open Monday through Friday from 1 to 4 p.m.