Ernest Orlando Lawrence (1901-1958), Cyclotron and Medicine

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On August 8, 2001, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory celebrated the centennial of the birth of its founder (and namesake), Ernest Orlando Lawrence. For the occasion, many speeches were given and old speeches were remembered. We recall the words of the late Luis Alvarez, a Nobel Laureate and one of the Lawrence's closest colleagues: ''Lawrence will always be remembered as the inventor of the cyclotron, but more importantly, he should be remembered as the inventor of the modern way of doing science''. J. L. Heilbron and R. W. Seidel, in the introduction of their book, ''Lawrence and His Laboratory'' stated, ''The ... continued below

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Chu, William T. September 1, 2005.

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On August 8, 2001, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory celebrated the centennial of the birth of its founder (and namesake), Ernest Orlando Lawrence. For the occasion, many speeches were given and old speeches were remembered. We recall the words of the late Luis Alvarez, a Nobel Laureate and one of the Lawrence's closest colleagues: ''Lawrence will always be remembered as the inventor of the cyclotron, but more importantly, he should be remembered as the inventor of the modern way of doing science''. J. L. Heilbron and R. W. Seidel, in the introduction of their book, ''Lawrence and His Laboratory'' stated, ''The motives and mechanisms that shaped the growth of the Laboratory helped to force deep changes in the scientific estate and in the wider society. In the entrepreneurship of its founder, Ernest Orlando Lawrence, these motives, mechanisms, and changes came together in a tight focus. He mobilized great and small philanthropists, state and local governments, corporations, and plutocrats, volunteers and virtuosos. The work they supported, from astrophysics and atomic bombs, from radiochemistry to nuclear medicine, shaped the way we observe, control, and manipulate our environment.'' Indeed, all over the civilized world, the ways we do science changed forever after Lawrence built his famed Radiation Laboratory. In this editorial, we epitomize his legacy of changing the way we do medicine, thereby affecting the health and well being of all humanity. This year marks the 75th anniversary of the invention of the cyclotron by Ernest Orlando Lawrence at the University of California at Berkeley. Lawrence conceived the idea of the cyclotron early in 1929 after reading an article by Rolf Wideroe on high-energy accelerators. In the spring of 1930 one of his students, Nels Edlefsen, constructed two crude models of a cyclotron. Later in the fall of the same year, another student, M. Stanley Livingston, constructed a 13-cm diameter model that had all the features of early cyclotrons, accelerating protons to 80,000 volts using less than 1,000 volts on a semi-circular accelerating electrode, now called the ''dee''. Following the discovery by J. D. Cockcroft and E. T. S. Walton of how to produce larger currents at higher voltages, Lawrence constructed the first two-dee 27-Inch (69-cm) Cyclotron, which produced protons and deuterons of 4.8 MeV. The 27-Inch Cyclotron was used extensively in early investigations of nuclear reactions involving neutrons and artificial radioactivity. In 1939, working with William Brobeck, Lawrence constructed the 60-Inch (150-cm) Cyclotron, which accelerated deuterons to 19 MeV. It was housed in the Crocker Laboratory, where scientists first made transmutations of some elements, discovered several transuranic elements, and created hundreds of radioisotopes of known elements. At the Crocker Laboratory the new medical modality called nuclear medicine was born, which used radioisotopes for diagnosis and treatment of human diseases. In 1939 Lawrence was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics, and later element 103 was named ''Lawrencium'' in his honor.

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  • Journal Name: Zeitschrift Fur Medizinische Physik; Journal Volume: 16; Journal Issue: 2; Related Information: Journal Publication Date: June 2006

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  • Report No.: LBNL--59884
  • Grant Number: DE-AC02-05CH11231
  • Office of Scientific & Technical Information Report Number: 889629
  • Archival Resource Key: ark:/67531/metadc884665

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  • September 1, 2005

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  • Sept. 21, 2016, 2:29 a.m.

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  • Sept. 29, 2016, 8:25 p.m.

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Chu, William T. Ernest Orlando Lawrence (1901-1958), Cyclotron and Medicine, article, September 1, 2005; Berkeley, California. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc884665/: accessed August 21, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.