Early History of LBNL

A transcript of the lecture delivered by
Dr. Glenn T. Seaborg
on the 65th Anniversary of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
August 26, 1996
An Early History of LBNL by Dr. Glenn T. Seaborg


Complete non-framed version of document (Postscipt version)

Last modified 23-July-97
LBNL Library Home page: http://www-library.lbl.gov/
Technical and Electronic Information Department Home page: http://www.lbl.gov/ICSD/TEID
Image Database Home Page

An Early History of LBNL by Dr. Glenn T. Seaborg

Introduction: Seaborg comes to Berkeley

Thank you very much, Darleane [Hoffman], for a very fine introduction. I've been asked to talk about the first three decades of the Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory. I notice they left the "Lawrence" off of here somehow. [Referring to the logo plaque on the front of the lectern.] In the course of that I will spill over a little bit in order to finish some of the things I'm talking about and go a little bit beyond the first three decades.

Ernest Lawrence about the time he came to the University of California at Berkeley, August 1931.

I'm going to use a large number of slides because I didn't know what to omit. So I'm going to go pretty fast in some of the slides. I thought I would rather say a little bit about a lot of of things than a lot about a few things and then leave out a number of things, so I'm going to have to move pretty fast.

I'm going to begin with a picture of Ernest Lawrence taken in the earliest days. He came to Berkeley in 1928 and invented the Cyclotron in 1929. Actually, I became . . . as Darleane has indicated, I did my undergraduate work at UCLA and I became acquainted with the work here at Berkeley in a course in atomic physics that I took from a professor called John Adams, who was a descendent of the second President of the United States, and he told us about the invention of the cyclotron at Berkeley, the discovery of artificial radioactivity early in 1934.

I took this course after I had graduated from UCLA in February 1934, and he told us about the discovery of the neutron and of deuterium in 1932, and so forth. This increased my resolve to go to Berkeley and do my graduate work.Here are some of the notes taken from my notebook as I took that course in 1934.
Notes from an atomic physics course taught by Dr. Adams at UCLA in 1934. Report on Ernest O. Lawrence's experiments, dated 4/6/34

An Early History of LBNL by Dr. Glenn T. Seaborg

Early Cyclotrons

I arrived in Berkeley in August of 1934. At that time Ernest was working with the 27-inch cyclotron, which was producing 3 million-electron-volt protons.
Five inch cyclotron held by Glenn Seaborg. 27-inch cyclotron in 1932.
Here I go back to the first operating cyclotron, the 4-inch cyclotron, that operated first on January 2, 1931 and produced 70 kilo-electron-volt protons. You'll see here that I'm holding this. I can prove that because I have the same watch on. Then in 1932 we had the 27-inch cyclotron. Lawrence moved to the old Radiation Laboratory that I'm going to show you a picture of in a few moments. He was assigned that building on August 26, 1931. That is exactly 65 years ago today.

Left to right: Jack Livingood, Frank Exner, M.S. Livingston (in front), David Sloan, Ernest O. Lawrence, Milton G. White, Wesley Coates, L. Jackson Laslett, and Commander T. Lucci.

And here he built the 27-inch cyclotron, of which I show you a picture here, that produced first protons and then deuterons in 1933. Here is a picture taken in 1933 of a number of the key people working with him at that time. I won't stop to read off the names, I'll let you do that. This 27-inch cyclotron was producing 3 MeV deuterons by the time I came here in 1934, and then 4 MeV deuterons the next year, then 5 MeV deuterons the next year, and by 1937, 6 MeV deuterons. Then he built the 37-inch cyclotron using the same magnet. This was a magnet with about 70 tons of iron in it, and that produced 8 MeV deuterons.

37-inch cyclotron. Berkeley, California. Deuteron-deuteron neutron source; Room 118, Radiation Laboratory, University of California, Berkeley (UCB). East Hall, University of California, Berkeley (UCB), where work with fast neutrons took place.
When I came to Berkeley I chose to do my graduate work really in nuclear physics. I was in the Chemistry Department and got my Ph.D. in chemistry, but in Berkeley you can do research in nuclear physics and get a degree in chemistry. I worked in the old Radiation Laboratory with a deuteron-deuteron source, 100 kilo-electron volts, producing neutrons by bombarding deuterium, deuterium oxide cooled to ice temperatures with liquid air, with deuterons. I measured the interactions of neutrons with a number of elements, and that was part of my thesis. I moved over to an old building called East Hall and finished my thesis work using a radium-beryllium source of neutrons.

Glenn Seaborg in the East Hall on the UC Berkeley campus in 1937 with neutron scattering apparatus.

Here I am with the apparatus and the lead shielding, and so forth, taken just about the time in May 1937 when I was finishing my Ph.D. research.

Here's a view of the campus at that time. This is the chemistry building and here is the old Radiation Laboratory. Actually, it's a little later because here is also the Crocker Laboratory and Lewis Hall. Here is the old Radiation Laboratory being torn down in 1959 to make room for Latimer Hall.

Chemistry buildings, old Radiation Laboratory, Crocker Laboratory, etc., 1940's. Demolition of Old Radiation Laboratory, 1959.

An Early History of LBNL by Dr. Glenn T. Seaborg

The 60 Inch Cyclotron

Cooksey and Lawrence at the 60-inch cyclotron. 60-inch cyclotron, circa 1939, shows beam. John and Ernest Lawrence at control panel of 60-inch cyclotron shortly after it began operating.

Here is Lawrence and his assistant Don Cooksey at the 60-inch cyclotron which began to operate in 1939 and produced 16 MeV deuterons, and had a magnet weighing about 200 tons. Here is a picture of the deuteron beam coming out of that 60-inch cyclotron, 16 MeV deuterons. Here is a picture of Ernest Lawrence with his brother John, who joined the Laboratory in 1937 to do the pioneering work in nuclear medicine. Really, he was the instigator, the first person to do significant research in nuclear medicine using the radioactive isotopes produced in the Berkeley cyclotrons.

Here's a picture of the group, with all of their names there, at the 60-inch cyclotron. More or less the key personnel at that time in 1939.

Early Radiation Laboratory staff framed by the magnet for 60-inch cyclotron in 1939 60-inch cyclotron group: Cooksey, Corson, Ernest O. Lawrence, Thornton, Backus, Salisbury, Luis Alvarez, and Edwin McMillan, 1939.
Here's another group in 1939. Up on top we have Luis Alvarez and Ed McMillan that I'm sure a number of you knew. The other people here have their names . . . Here is Ernest Lawrence and Bob Thornton. The others are identified.

Ernest O. Lawrence Nobel Award announcement on blackboard

On November 9, 1939, word came that Ernest Lawrence had received the Nobel Prize for his invention of the cyclotron. There's an interesting story there. Darleane had mentioned that Helen Griggs was serving as Ernest Lawrence's secretary, and she got the word. He was over at the Claremont tennis court playing tennis. She phoned there trying to get in touch with him, but they said they couldn't bother him. "Yes you can bother him. I want to give him this news." So she was the one who gave him the news on his winning the Nobel Prize. This is self explanatory (referring to the blackboard announcement). This is the celebration that they had there.

An Early History of LBNL by Dr. Glenn T. Seaborg

Elements 93 and 94

1934 findings of Enrico Fermi and co-workers
Now I'm going to go back quickly to some of the work that I was involved in that had to do with the heavy elements, the elements beyond uranium. This in a sense began back in 1934 when Fermi and co-workers in Rome bombarded uranium with neutrons produced in a radon-beryllium source and produced a number of activities that they thought were due to transuranium elements.
Periodic Table before World War II
For example, an activity with 13 minutes half life was thought to be due to ekarhenium. According to the periodic table of that day, it was thought that the transuranium elements would fit in in this way, and element 93 would be like rhenium, ekarhenium, 94, ekaosmium, 95, ekairidium, 96, ekaplatinum, and so forth. This work was carried on by Hahn, Meitner and Strassman in Germany. They thought that they had identified a number of activities that had these properties corresponding to the periodic table of that day. Then in December of 1938, Hahn and Strassman made their momentous discovery that these radioactivities were not due to transuranium elements but were due to fission products. So we had no transuranium elements then. They had all become fission products until McMillan and Abelson, in June of 1940, reported that one of these products from the bombardment of uranium was, indeed, a transuranium element with a mass number 239 and a half life of 2.3 days.
Otto Hahn, Lise Meitner, Fritz Strassmann--1936 or 1937, EkaRe, EkaOs, EkaIr and EkaAu Hahn & Strassmann, December 1938 Discovery of Element 93
But they couldn't find the daughter, which they thought would decay by alpha particle emission because it seemed to have too long a half life. Here is a picture of Ed McMillan taken at the time of his work, and a picture of Phil Abelson taken at that time.

Edwin M. McMillan Philip Abelson

Discovery of
Element 94
Then I entered the picture. I was an instructor in chemistry and I had a co-worker, Kennedy, who was an instructor in chemistry. McMillan had started the work to look for the next element, the element with the atomic number 94. I had a graduate student, Arthur Wahl, working with me. We bombarded uranium with deuterons and we found an activity with a half life of about 2 days due to element 93, which , when it decayed, led to a daughter whose alpha particles we could detect and chemically identify. As Darleane mentioned, we chemically identified these . . . the bombardment was made on December 14, 1940 and we chemically identified it as element 94 on February 23, 1941. But most importantly, and McMillan and Abelson had already found this, element 93 didn't resemble rhenium, it was not ekarhenium, it resembled uranium. And 94, we found, didn't resemble osmium, was not ekaosmium according to the periodic table of that day, but resembled uranium. It was clear that there was another transition series beginning to operate at this point.

Glenn T. Seaborg at Geiger-Muller counter and amplifier, 1941. Joe Kennedy at 9237 San Antonio Avenue, South Gate, Christmas, 1940 Art Wahl at Washington University
Here's a picture of me taken at this time. I like to show this picture because it shows how little I've changed in the last 55 years. Here's a picture of Joe Kennedy. We went down to South Gate -- Home Gardens became South Gate by that time -- where my parents were living, at Christmas 1940 leaving our graduate student, Art Wahl, up at Berkeley to work on the products. Here is a picture of Kennedy in the backyard, Christmas day 1940, taken by my mother with her Kodak box camera. Here's a picture of Art Wahl taken at Washington University right after the war.

Helen L. Griggs and Glenn T. Seaborg, Christmas 1941 in San Francisco
The reports announcing the discovery of element 94 were typed by Ernest Lawrence's secretary, Helen Griggs, and I like to say that she was so efficient as a secretary that I began to date her. She doesn't like that characterization, and I have to admit immediately that she had other qualities. We began to go together.Here we are in San Francisco on Market Street on Christmas 1941. One of these itinerant photographers took our picture and handed me a card and if I sent in 50 cents I could get a copy, and of course I did.

Naming -- 92 Uranium (U) Uranus, 93 Neptunium (Np) Neptune, 94 Plutonium (Pu) Pluto
In that first report, we decided to name the element plutonium, just like uranium is named after Uranus, neptunium by McMillan and Abelson after Neptune, we decided to name it plutonium. We should have named it plutium, but we liked plutonium better. It just sounded better. And the symbol obviously should have been Pl, but we liked Pu better so we gave it the symbol Pu. We thought we'd be subject to a great deal of criticism after the war was over. This was our own research. We kept it secret voluntarily and then sent the information to Washington.
The Chemical Properties of Elements 94 and 93
Here is the report written on March 21, 1942 typed by Helen Griggs, held secret until after the war when it was published in the Journal of the American Chemical Society in 1948. This is where the names plutonium and neptunium were first revealed.

An Early History of LBNL by Dr. Glenn T. Seaborg


Glenn T. Seaborg and astronomer Clyde W. Tombaugh, discoverer of the planet Pluto, at a press conference at the Sandia National Laboratory in Albuquerque, New Mexico 25th Anniversary of the discovery of plutonium with (from left to right) Glenn Seaborg, Arthur C. Wahl and Edwin McMillan.
In June 1991 I happened to meet in Albuquerque the discoverer of the planet Pluto, who was still alive, Clyde Tombaugh. He had discovered the planet Pluto in 1930 when he was only 24 years old. Here we are at a press conference, the discoverers of Pluto and plutonium. And on the 25th anniversary, February of 1966 that would be, of the discovery of plutonium, the room in Gilman Hall, room 307, was declared a historic national landmark. Here is the plaque that is now on that door. If you want to go up there and see it, it's still there. By some miracle Gilman Hall still stands, although the other chemistry buildings have been torn down.
Glenn T. Seaborg in 307 Gilman Hall.
Here I am, at about 20 years after the discovery of plutonium, in that room, room 307 Gilman Hall, on one of my trips back from Washington when I was serving at chairman of the AEC. The room was pretty much the same as it was when we discovered plutonium.

Demonstration of fission of Pu-239 by Kennedy, Seaborg, Segrè, and Wahl on March 28, 1941
Then we went on, joined by Segrè, and bombarded a lot of plutonium with a lot of neutrons and produced a half a microgram, using the 60-inch cyclotron and then using the 37-inch cyclotron showed that it underwent fission with slow neutrons, with a cross section about the same as the fissionable isotope of uranium, U235, which meant, of course, that it had this potential to be the explosive ingredient for an atomic bomb. We reported that to Washington and that was the basis of the plutonium project of the Manhattan District. That measurement was made on March 28, 1941 and on the 25th anniversary of that, March 28, 1966, Segrè and I presented that sample, that half microgram sample with its rare earth carrier, to the Smithsonian where you can see it now on display in the Science in American Life exhibit.
Glenn T. Seaborg and Emilio Segrè presenting plutonium sample to Smithsonian Institution

I kept it in this cigar box those intervening years. As Darleane has said, I worked as Gilbert N. Lewis' research assistant. He was an inveterate smoker of cigars, lit one off the end of one after the other, and I inherited these cigar boxes and used one of them to keep this sample in.


An Early History of LBNL by Dr. Glenn T. Seaborg

The University in the 1940's

Aerial View of the University of California, Berkeley (UCB) in 1940. Crocker Lab - exterior of building housing Seaborg's lab, 1941. Exterior view of the old Radiation Laboratory
This is the way the campus looked at about that time in 1940. Here are the chemistry buildings, here is the East Hall that I told you about. Here is Telegraph Avenue and Bancroft Way. Here is the Crocker Laboratory, where the 60-inch cyclotron was situated. The one used to furnish the neutrons to make the plutonium, the half a microgram that we used to demonstrate its fissionability. Here is the old Radiation Laboratory where the 37-inch cyclotron was that furnished the neutrons to make it possible for us to show that the plutonium was fissionable with slow neutrons. This contains the room, Room 118, that I worked in when I first came to Berkeley in 1934.

An Early History of LBNL by Dr. Glenn T. Seaborg

A Time for Work and a Time for Play

Lawrence party group, Yamato Hotel, San Francisco, approximately 1938: R. Sagane, Ernest O. Lawrence, H. Walke, H. Newton, J. Cork, J. Laslett, R. Thorton, E.M. McMillan, G. Paxton, P. Aebersold, L. Emo, B. Kinsey, V. Voorhis, Lyman, Richardson, Yasaki, Snell, Livingood, Cooksey, Kurie. LBL party at DiBiasi's, 860 San Pablo Avenue, Albany, California. Clockwise around the table: Ernest O. Lawrence, Betty (Mrs. Charlton) Cooksey, Vannevar Bush, Molly (Mrs. Ernest) Lawrence, Alfred Loomis, Dorothy Axelrod, Helen Griggs, Charlton Cooksey, David Sloan, and S. Mrozowski.
We had a lot of parties in those days. Here's one where you can see a number of the people. It includes Jack Livingood and Don Cooksey, Ed McMillan, Bob Thornton, Paul Aebersold, Ernest Lawrence, and so forth. That was in 1938. Here's a party held in 1940. I like to show this picture because, besides Lawrence and Vannevar Bush, and Alfred Loomis, and so forth, here's a girl named Helen Griggs sitting over there. I had met her as early as 1938 but I didn't have enough nerve to begin dating her until 1941. Actually, she was going with somebody else at the time this picture was taken.

Paul Aebersold
Here's a picture of Paul Aebersold taken about that time. I include his picture because he was the one who sort of arranged these dinner parties, of which I showed you the two examples on the previous slides. He then went on and after the war became the head of the isotopes distribution of the Atomic Energy Commission. He moved to Washington and worked with me when I was chairman of the AEC.

An Early History of LBNL by Dr. Glenn T. Seaborg

The Scientists

I thought I should say something special about Luis Alvarez because he was an extraordinary scientist at this time. He joined the Laboratory in 1936.
Alvarez with personally built electronics and BF-3 ionization chamber Glenn T. Seaborg journal excerpt, April 15, 1938. Discovery of electron capture decay by Luis W. Alvarez. Four future presidents of the American Physical Society. Left to right: Alvarez, Robert Oppenheimer, Willy Fowler and Bob Serber (1938)

Here's a picture of him with a neutron counter taken in 1938. He is responsible for a large number of discoveries.Here is a note from my journal of April 15, 1938. I've kept a journal since January 1, 1927. Here is my description of a paper I had just read in which he discovered decay by electron capture. He is the discoverer of that method of decay. Here is a picture taken in 1938 of Luis Alvarez with Robert Oppenheimer, Willie Fowler of Cal Tech, and Bob Serber of the Radiation Lab at that time.

Alvarez receives the Nobel Prize for Physics from King Gustav VI with Princess Christina looking on (1968). Asteroid Impact research team (1969). Left to right: Helen Michel, Frank Asaro, Walter Alvarez and Luis Alvarez.
Here is a picture of Luis Alvarez receiving the Nobel Prize from King Gustaf VI of Sweden on December 10, 1968, for his work on the hydrogen bubble chamber and its application to the characterization of a number of fundamental elementary particles. Here is a later picture I thought I'd include to show his versatility, and that has to do with his idea of the extinction of the dinosaurs 65 million years ago by an asteroid. Here's Luis with his son Walter and Frank Asaro and Helen Michel.

Radiocarbon dating. Kamen and Ruben.
Here are just a few other discoveries of about this time. The discovery by Kamen and Ruben in 1940 of the famous carbon-14 that has such a tremendous impact as a tracer in studying photosynthesis and biological processes and so forth, and [radio-carbon]dating, as developed by Willard Libby and his co-worker Jim Arnold beginning in 1950. Here's a picture of Sam Ruben, taken about that time (1940), and of Martin Kamen who, by the way, received the $100,000 Fermi award just this year. Here's a picture of Melvin Calvin who used carbon-14 after the war to work out the photosynthesis process for which he received the Nobel Prize in 1961.

Sam Ruben at work in the Rat House, University of California, Berkeley (UCB). Martin Kamen. Melvin Calvin doing early photosynthesis in the old Radiation Laboratory, circa 1948.

Radioistopes discovered at LBL commonly used in nuclear medicine

Here's a number of radioisotopes discovered at Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory commonly used in nuclear medicine. I won't stop there, but I was involved in the discovery of a number of these. In fact the isotopes that I was involved in the discovery of, used in nuclear medicine, are used some 10 million times a year now in the diagnosis and treatment of disease. In fact, one of them saved my mother's life, iodine-131. She had a fatal hyperthyroid condition and she was diagnosed and treated with iodine-131 as were George Bush and Barbara Bush who, as you know, are suffering from Graves' disease.

Joseph Hamilton radiosodium experiment
I thought I must show a picture of Joe Hamilton here, who is working with sodium-24. He is one of the first to work out these processes for the use of radioisotopes here at the Laboratory in nuclear medicine.

An Early History of LBNL by Dr. Glenn T. Seaborg

Seaborg's Radionuclides

Radionuclides used in medicine in the discovery of which Seaborg was involved. Glenn T. Seaborg and J.J. Livingood walking in front of Sather Gate, University of California, Berkeley as they are mailing iodine-131 paper.

Here is a summary of those radionuclides used in medicine in the discovery of which I was involved. Here we have a picture of me with Jack Livingood -- I worked with him on a number of these -- on Telegraph Avenue, there's Sather Gate, on our way to the post office mailing the manuscript announcing the discovery of iodine-131. This is a picture taken by an itinerant photographer. He handed me a card and I sent him 50 cents. They don't do much of that anymore.

Glenn T. Seaborg photographed with two iodine and technetium papers.
Here are the articles reproduced showing that, in the discovery of iodine, the letter to the editor was 217 words, and in the discovery of technetium-99m 237 words. We didn't waste words in those days. Now I'm going to run quickly through the chemical elements discovered at Berkeley using the Berkeley cyclotron. I'm going to run through them very quickly. First of all, Emilio Segrè, working with Carlos Perrier in Palermo, Italy, using molybdenum from the innards of the cyclotron shipped to him by Lawrence, discovered element 43 which was later named technetium. Then Dale Corson, Ken McKenzie, Emilio Segrè in 1940, using the Berkeley 60-inch cyclotron, bombarded bismuth with helium ions to discover element 85, which was later named astatine.

Chemical elements discovered at Berkeley, California or by Berkeley teams. Element 43, technetium (Tc). Perrier and Emilio Segrè. Element 85, astatine. Corson, et al.

An Early History of LBNL by Dr. Glenn T. Seaborg

Seaborg's Elements

Atomic Weight, Name and Symbol chart for ten transuranium elements of which GTS participated in the discovery. Glenn T. Seaborg and Edwin M. McMillan in front of the Periodic Table, soon after the announcement of the receipt of their winning the 1951 Nobel Prize in chemistry.

Here are the elements in whose discovery I have been involved. Ten of them, maybe eleven. I'm going to say a little bit about another element, 110, in a few minutes. I've already covered plutonium. For this -- actually for the chemistry of the transuranium elements -- Ed McMillan and I received the 1951 Nobel Prize in chemistry. By the way, that's the earliest Nobel Prize of any living Nobel Prize winner in any field. I was 39 years old at the time, so I've been a Nobel Prize winner most of my life. Here I am receiving the Nobel Prize on December 10, 1951 from King Gustav VI of Sweden. Being of Swedish parentage, I met an awful lot of relatives when I was in Sweden.

The King of Sweden giving the Nobel Prize to Glenn T. Seaborg. U-233, 1941-1942. The 25th anniversary of U-233. Dr. John Gofman, Dr. Glenn T. Seaborg and Dr. Raymond Stoughton in Room 303 of Gilman Hall, University of California, Berkeley (UCB)

Also, I was involved with Jack Gofman and Ray Stoughton in the discovery of uranium-233, which is fissionable and hence is the key to the use of thorium as a source of nuclear energy. That was discovered in February 1942 and here we are in February 1967 on the 25th anniversary, Gofman and Stoughton and I, at a Regents meeting where this plaque was presented, and stands outside room 303 of Gilman Hall.

An Early History of LBNL by Dr. Glenn T. Seaborg

Elements of the 1950's

LBL Building 4 LBL Building 5
We moved back to Berkeley. I'm not going to have time to cover the war years where we worked out the chemical processes for plutonium and discovered two more elements, americium and curium, 95 and 96. We moved back to Berkeley after the war, late 1945 and 1946, into building 4, which is still there. That's sort of the headquarters for the people working on the Advanced Light Source. Here's a picture taken at about that time when we moved back in 1946. Soon after that, Lawrence got the money for building 5, which is still there and where I moved in to have my office because we were still doing work which was at that time secret, so we had a guard there behind the fence. I was sitting at this table in November of 1951 having a brown bag lunch with my colleagues when the phone call came through from Stockholm via a reporter in New York that I had won the Nobel Prize in chemistry.

The four codiscoverers of berkelium (Bk, element 97) and californium (Cf, element 98) in Glenn T. Seaborg's office as part of LBL's 25th anniversary of the discovery. Left to right: Kenneth Street, Jr., Stanley G. Thompson, Glenn T. Seaborg, and Albert Ghiorso. Codiscoverers of einsteinium (Es, element 99, 1952) and fermium (Fm, element 100, 1953) at symposium commemorating the 25th anniversary of their discovery held at the LBL. Left to right (front row): Louise Smith, Sherman Fried, Gary Higgins. Left to right (back row): Albert Ghiorso, Rod Spence, GTS, Paul Fields and John Huizenga. The codiscoverers of mendelevium at the LBL, on the 25th anniversary of discovery. Left to right: Gregory R. Choppin, GTS, Bernard G. Harvey, and Albert Ghiorso.

Now I'm going to run through the next elements quickly. In 1949 and 1950, we synthesized and identified, and I loosely use the word discovered, elements 97 and 98. December of 1949 and January 1950. Ken Street, Stan Thompson, and Al Ghiorso and I, a picture taken on the 25th anniversary of the discovery, January 1975. Here are the discoverers of elements 99 and 100. It involved work by people at the Argonne National Laboratory and the Los Alamos National Laboratory and here. That discovery was in December 1952 for 99 and January 1953 for element 100, and here we are at the 25th anniversary of that discovery.

Mendelevium (Md) party at Larry Blake's: Nelson Garden, Al Ghiorso, Bernard Rossi, Earl Hyde and others at buffet table. The codiscoverers of nobelium (No, element 102) in the HILAC building, LBL in 1958:Albert Ghiorso, Torbjorn Sikkeland, and John R. Walton. Glenn T. Seaborg is absent.

Then we went on to the discovery of element 101 in March 1955, and here we are on the 25th anniversary of element 101. The team, Greg Choppin and Bernie Harvey, myself, and Al Ghiorso. Stan Thompson was also a member of that discovery team but he had died in 1976. This photograph was taken on the 25th anniversary in March of 1980. We celebrated that with a sort of a party at the restaurant, and I just wanted to show here the picture of Nelson Garden who did so much for the radiation protection of our group, and Bernie Rossi who was the operator of the cyclotron, as well as Al Ghiorso.

Here are the discoverers of element 102 in 1958, Ghiorso, Torbjorn Sikkeland, and John Walton. I'm a co-discoverer also, but I wasn't there. By that time I had been put up to be Chancellor and I wasn't in the laboratory when this picture was taken.

The codiscoverers of lawrencium (Lr, element 103), HILAC building, LBL, 1961:Torbjorn Sikkeland, Albert Ghiorso, Almon E. 'Bud' Larsh, Robert M. Latimer.

Now we come to 103. There we have Torbjorn Sikkeland, Ghiorso, and Almon Larsh and Robert Latimer. This was in 1961.

An Early History of LBNL by Dr. Glenn T. Seaborg

Elements 104, 105, 106

Now we come to elements 104 and 105, which were discovered in 1969 and 1970. Here is a picture of the discoverers. I was visiting from Washington at that time with them and so we have Matti Nurmia, Jim Harris, Kari Eskola, myself, and Pirkko Eskola, and Al Ghiorso.
The codiscoverers of rutherfordium (Rf, element 104) and hahnium (Ha, element 105) with GTS at the HILAC building, LBL. Left to right: Matti Nurmia, James Harris, Kari Eskola, GTS, Pirkko Eskola and Albert Ghiorso. The codiscoverers of element 106, seaborgium (Sg) at the Heavy Ion Linear Accelerator (HILAC) building of LBL at the time of discovery in 1974. From left to right: Matti Nurmia, Jose R. Alonso, Albert Ghiorso, E. Kenneth Hulet, Carol T. Alonso, Ronald W. Lougheed, GTS, and J. Michael Nitschke.

Here are the discoverers of element 106, which took place in 1974. Matti Nurmia, Jose Alonzo, Al Ghiorso, Ken Hulet, Carol Alonzo, Ron Lougheed, myself, and Mike Nitschke. As Darleane mentioned, Albert Ghiorso made the suggestion that this element be named seaborgium.
Glenn T. Seaborg pointing to seaborgium (element 106) on the Periodic Table of the Elements, 1995.
There has been some reluctance on the part of the Commission for Nomenclature of Inorganic Chemistry of the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry to accept the name because I'm still alive and they can prove it, they say. I think that's going to turn out all right. They went out for comments and they found pretty much support for the name.

I just wanted to show this because Andy Sessler is in it, and he's going to talk here on Wednesday. He was the director of the Lab in the 70s, and I had the honor as chairman of the AEC, with presenting him with the Lawrence Award in 1970. Here's Mike May, who was the Director of the Livermore Lab, one of the recipients.

Lawrence Award: Sessler, Bair, Cobble, May, Hendrie.

An Early History of LBNL by Dr. Glenn T. Seaborg

Berkeley in the 1940's and the 184 Inch Cyclotron

Reactions for element 110.
Now I mention element 110. In 1991 Ghiorso and co-workers, of which I was a member of the team, produced an isotope which decayed with a half life of 4 microseconds, and identified it as due to element 110, announced it at a talk given in Italy in June 1994 and published later that year. There are other workers, including those at the GSI laboratory, who have found another isotope, and actually still another group that I won't have time to mention. So there are several co-discoverers of element 110 that doesn't have a name yet.

In 1940, there was a meeting at Berkeley with Lawrence and Arthur Compton, Vannevar Bush, Jim Conant, Karl Compton, and Alfred Loomis, that led to the funding for the 184-inch cyclotron.
Meeting in the Radiation Laboratory at the University of California, Berkeley (UCB) in March 1940 to discuss the 184-inch cyclotron. Left to right: Ernest O. Lawrence, Arthur H. Compton, Vannevar Bush, James B. Conant, Karl T. Compton, and Alfred Loomis. 184-inch cyclotron facility on October 23, 1941.
Here it is in 1941 as it is being built on the move from the campus up on the hill. This had a magnet of about 4,000 tons, something like that, and produced 200 MeV deuterons. It was used for a number of discoveries, including the discovery of the pi mesons produced artificially.
Ernest O. Lawrence, Glenn T. Seaborg, and J. Robert Oppenheimer in early 1946 at the controls to the magnet of the 184-inch cyclotron, which was being converted from its wartime use to its original purpose as a cyclotron.

Here we are at the control of the 184-inch cyclotron, Lawrence, Oppenheimer, and I in 1946.

Lawrence and the staff shown with the 184-inch magnet. Lawrence Radiation Laboratory (LBL), Berkeley, California view towards south. Visible in this picture is the 184-inch cyclotron building.

Here is the whole gang, I won't try to identify them, at about the time when it began to operate. Here is the building in which it was housed.

An Early History of LBNL by Dr. Glenn T. Seaborg

The Bevatron

I might just mention that Luis Alvarez also invented and built a linear accelerator for 32 MeV protons, and this is the scribbling on their blackboard when they first got a beam in 1947.
Search for the first beam from the proton linear accelerator (10/16/47). Alvarez's 8:30 p.m. blackboard calculation 'proving' that geometry must be changed and that the "machine would not work", with an added note that at 2:40 a.m., six hours later, they achieved the beam.
Then Lawrence went on to build the Bevatron. That's the huge machine, to produce 6 BeV protons, 150 feet across, or something like that. Here is the building in which it was housed. It's still there.
Overall view of Bevatron. Lawrence Radiation Laboratory (LRL) from Indian Rock Drive. Visible in this picture are: Building 70, Building 51, the Bevatron, Administration Building.

It was used for a number of things, but one was the discovery of the antiproton by Clyde Wiegand and Tom Ypsilantis and Emilio Segrè, and Owen Chamberlain, who was away at the time the picture was taken.

Surrounding Edward Lofgren (center) are discoverers of the anti-proton, (left to right) Emilio Segrè, Clyde Wiegand, Owen Chamberlain and Thomas Ypsilantis. Seaborg, Weigand, Segrè, Steiner, McMillan Nobel Prize celebration.
The Bevatron began to operate in 1954 and the antiproton was discovered in 1955, for which Segrè and Chamberlain were awarded the Nobel Prize in 1959. Here's Ed McMillan, the director of the Lab. I think it's unfortunate that Clyde Wiegand also wasn't involved as a recipient of the Nobel Prize.

An Early History of LBNL by Dr. Glenn T. Seaborg

The SuperHILAC, the Bevalac, and the Advanced Light Source

Here is the heavy ion linear accelerator of which Ghiorso became in charge. It produced heavy ions of 10 MeV per nucleon and began to operate in late 1956 and early 1957. Here's the building in which it was housed. The building is still there.

SuperHILAC under construction. Aerial view of Building 71.

88-inch cyclotron.
Then there's the 88-inch cyclotron. This went into operation in December of 1961. Bernie Harvey had a lot to do with that and was in charge of it for years. Claude Lyneis is in charge now. It produced 60 MeV deuterons, but in the intervening years has been converted to the production of heavy ions all the way up to uranium ions.

Aerial view of LBL.
Here's a picture showing where everything is. There's the 184-inch cyclotron, here's the building we're in, the chemistry building, and so forth.

Then in 1971 Al Ghiorso had the idea of using the HILAC as an injector for the Bevatron to make into a Bevalac so it could accelerate heavy ions to the multi-BeV energy range. That came into operation a few years later. Here's a picture of the line going down from the HILAC to the Bevatron to produce the Bevalac.
Diagram of High-energy Heavy Ion Facility (Bevalac). Bevalac: Beam transport line construction, Bevatron end.

Then in 1989 the 184-inch cyclotron building was converted to house the Advanced Light Source, which came into operation a few years later and which later speakers I'm sure will say something about.

Construction of Advanced Light Source (ALS) at LBL. Flow chart for radioactive beam acceleration.

Then Mike Nitschke had an idea, and I can only just tell you this, which was to produce radioactive ions by bombarding a heavy target with high energy protons which in turn could be accelerated and would give you a much broader range for transmutations, because you could have nuclei that had more neutrons or less neutrons than the stable isotopes, and so forth. This was Mike Nitschke's idea, but with his death this work is not being carried on here. Unfortunate. Here's a picture of Mike taken about that time. Here is a chart of all of these radioactive isotopes that could be produced and accelerated in such a machine.

J. Michael (Mike) Nitschke with his detection apparatus at the Hilac in the 1980s. Projected Radioactive Beam intensities at the IsoSpin Laboratory (after acceleration to 10 MeV/u) from a Uranium Carbide target, 1 mol/cm² thick.

An Early History of LBNL by Dr. Glenn T. Seaborg

The Nobel Laureates and JFK

I'm going to end with a number of remarks about people. In November 1955 we had a visit from the famous Otto Hahn, the discoverer of nuclear fission, for which he received a Nobel Prize in 1944.

Ghiorso, Seaborg and Otto Hahn, University of California, Berkeley. Seven Nobel Laureates of LBL, University of California, Berkeley (UCB), with historic 37-inch cyclotron at the Lawrence Hall of Science. Pictured Owen Chamberlain, Edwin McMillan, Emilio Segrè, Melvin Calvin, Donald Glaser, Luis Alvarez, and Glenn T. Seaborg on March 7, 1969.

Here I am, Hahn, Ghiorso, and I. In 1969, on one of my visits to Berkeley, we took a picture of all the Nobel Prize winners. By that time there were 7. Chamberlain and Segrè, I mentioned their winning the Nobel Prize for the antiproton in 1959; McMillan and I for the chemistry of the transuranium elements in 1951; Calvin for his work on photosynthesis in 1961; and Glaser for his work on the bubble chamber in, I think, 1960; and Alvarez for his work on the hydrogen bubble chamber and its use in elementary particle physics and so forth, Nobel Prize in 1968.

Now I'm going to mention at random a few interesting things. In 1962, March 23, Charter Day, President John Kennedy visited the Radiation Laboratory. Helen and I flew back with him on Air Force One, and here we are entering building 70A. Here's Governor Pat Brown, along with Kennedy and me, and Ed McMillan.

Glenn T. Seaborg and John F. Kennedy at LBL. Edwin M. McMillan, Edward Teller, Glenn T. Seaborg, John F. Kennedy and Pat Brown visit LBL.
Here are the Lab directors, Norris Bradbury, the Director of Los Alamos; John Foster of Livermore; Ed McMillan, Director of Lawrence Berkeley Lab; myself; John Kennedy; Edward Teller; Bob McNamara; and Harold Brown, who was the Director of Defense Research and Engineering. Bob McNamara, of course, Secretary of Defense.

President John F. Kennedy (JFK) visiting AEC-supported Lawrence Radiation Laboratory (LRL) on March 23, 1963. Picture taken in front of Building 70A at LRL in Berkeley, California. Left to right: Dr. Norris Bradbury, Dr. John S. Foster, Dr. Edwin M. McMillan, Glenn T. Seaborg, President John F. Kennedy, Dr. Edward Teller, Robert McNamara (Secretary of Defense), and Dr. Harold Brown.

An Early History of LBNL by Dr. Glenn T. Seaborg

Not to Forget Anyone...

Frank Asaro, Iz Perlman, and Frank Stevens Isadore Perlman, Margaret and Bernard Harvey, Jack Hollander in 1953. Louise and John Rasmussen and Marian Diamond at Glenn T. Seaborg's Nuclear Chemistry Division party in 1958.

Here are just a few interesting shots taken in the 50s. First Frank Asaro, Iz Perlman, and Frank Stevens. Helen and I used to give a garden party every year and people had cameras there. Here we are with Iz Perlman, Margaret and Bernie Harvey, and Jack Hollander. Here we are with Louise and John Rasmussen and Marian Diamond. Here are Jane and Ken Street, and David and Lilo Templeton.

Mr. and Mrs. Kenneth Street, Mr. and Mrs. David Templeton on September 4, 1960. Rose McFarland, Ken Moody, and Glenn T. Seaborg in control room of 88-inch cyclotron on October 1, 1981.

Here is just an example of a couple of my graduate students when I came back from Washington. Ken Moody, Rose McFarland with me in the control room of the 88-inch cyclotron.
LBL Nuclear Chemistry Program Committee. John Rasmussen, Albert Ghiorso, Joseph Cerny, Kenneth Street, Norman Edelstein, Frank Asaro, Earl Hyde, Arthur Poskanzer, David Shirley, GTS, Frank Stephens, Richard Diamond, David Hendrie, Jack Hollander, Bernard Harvey, David Templeton, Sheila Saxby, Luciano Moretto, and Norman Glendenning.

We had a planning group meeting every couple of weeks and here is an example of one of these with a large number of people: Ken Street, Earl Hyde, Joe Cerny, Dave Shirley, Norm Edelstein, Art Poskanzer, John Rasmussen, myself, Dick Diamond, David Hendrie, Jack Hollander, Frank Stephens, Bernie Harvey, Dave Templeton and Norman Glendenning. I think I got them all.

50th anniversary of plutonium. Glenn T. Seaborg and his students on February 23, 1991.
Here is a group of my students that came back for the 50th anniversary celebration of the discovery of plutonium. It was February of 1941. They came back about the same time, February 21st or so of 1991 for the 50th anniversary, and here we are in this auditorium. A number of the people there... Dick Hoff, Jack Hollander, Ken Street, Tom Morgan, Trish Baiden, Roger Batzel, Paul Donovan, Art Wahl, Gerhart Friedlander, Bob Silva, John Rasmussen, Robert Welch, Don Orth, Phil Wilmarth, David Morrissey, Dick Diamond, Ken Gregorich, and Pat McGaughey.

An Early History of LBNL by Dr. Glenn T. Seaborg

Evolution of the Periodic Table

Finally, I'll just end with a little bit of science. This is the periodic table as it was when I made the change that made it possible to go on and discover the transuranium elements. I moved these elements, here, down here so then you could predict the chemical properties of these elements. We had been predicting them erroneously. Now element 95 would be like europium, 96 like gadolinium, and 97 like terbium, and so forth. For this I got the Nobel Prize. I would like to point that out to show you how easy it is.

Periodic table showing the heavy elements as members of an actinide series. Glenn T. Seaborg formulated this arrangement in 1944 and it was first published in Chemical and Engineering News in December 1945. Modern periodic table of the elements projected to element 118. Lanthanide (La) and actinide (Ac) series shown. With elements 106 (Sg), 107 (Ns), 108 (Hs), 109 (Mt), 110, 111, and 112 discovered.

So here we are today. All the way up to the unnamed elements 110, 111, and 112. Seaborgium is under tungsten, it's an eka-tungsten. As I like to say, I'm looking forward . . . Darleane just showed me a copy of an article on the chemistry of seaborgium that they're just sending in. It has isotopes that are sufficiently long lived so one can do chemistry. I'm looking forward to the day when we're going to be talking about seaborgous and seaborgic and seaborgate ions. Finally, here is a periodic table to end periodic tables. Here I've gone beyond element 118 all the way on up to the next noble gas, it would be a noble liquid.

Futuristic periodic table of the elements projected to element 168. With lanthanide (La), actinide (Ac) and superactinide series shown. With elements 106 (Sg), 107 (Ns), 108 (Hs), 109 (Mt), 110, 111 and 112 discovered.
Just as there are lanthanides and actinides, filling in inner electron shells there is a group that I call the "superactinides" in which there are two inner electron shells, so instead of being 14 members, as there is here (lanthanides), and here (actinides), there are 14 plus 18, or 32 members of that "superactinide" series, and then we go on up to 168. Unfortunately, the half lives of these elements are too short and we don't have any reactions for reaching them, so I think we'll do well to just go on up another half-dozen elements or so that we'll probably be able to find methods of producing and identifying on this very difficult one-atom-at-a-time basis.

That brings me to the end of my talk. Thank you very much.

Last modified 23-July-97
LBNL Library Home page: http://www-library.lbl.gov
Technical and Electronic Information Department Home page: http://www.lbl.gov/ICSD/TEID
Image Database Home Page

An Early History of LBNL by Dr. Glenn T. Seaborg

An Early History of LBNL - A lecture by Dr. Glenn T. Seaborg

About the web document

There were many steps that went into the production of the online version of Dr. Seaborg's lecture, An Early History of LBNL. First, the lecture was videotaped on August 26, 1996. The videotaped version of the lecture was then transcribed and broken up into sections to put into html format. The next step was adding the most important part of the website; the photographs. The slides that Dr. Seaborg has been using in his lecture for years were scanned and stored in LBNL's Image Library. From there the images were then linked to this document to bring the wonderful stories of a man who has had his finger on the pulse of science for 60 years, to life.

If you click on the photos you will get a larger version of the photo. If you click on the captions, you will get the photo credits for those photos that were not taken by a Berkeley Lab photographer.


Acknowledgement for the production of this online document goes to the following people and groups who put in their time, energy, and ideas to it's completion.

An honorable mention to these people whose help was greatly appreciated:
Gizella Kapus, Rachel Starbuck, Yulah Sun, Sherrill Whyte, and Kristin Balder-Froid.