Cast of Characters
During the 1930s the Laboratory grew into the exemplar of big science. Its size, staff, and income were not so large, however, that numbers must replace people, and dollars stand for activity, in our history. Still, some systematic data may assist overviewing and understanding. We shall first look at, and then under, tables setting forth the natural and financial resources that constituted the Laboratory.
The main forces at work in the Laboratory were the technological imperatives of the accelerators, scientific interests in the fields these machines opened up, and the need to find and to satisfy financial supporters. Over the novennium 1931/40, the state, foundations, and the federal government contributed in the ratio 40:38:22 to a total of at least $390,000 for operating expenses, salaries, and supplies. In addition, the Laboratory had over $162,000 in capital investment and gifts in kind, which came from individuals and corporations, foundations, and the federal government in the ratio 48:30:22. This accounting evidently does not include the huge award of $1.15 million made by the Rockefeller Foundation in April 1940 or the matching pledge from the University of $85,000 a year for ten years. These monies were expended slowly owing to the mobilization of the Laboratory which began late in 1940.
In his play for high academic stakes, Lawrence made expert use of four sets of wild cards dealt him without solicitation. The first set was calls from elsewhere. To defeat an offer from Northwestern in 1930, the Physics Department had first to win a battle on the home front against those who did not care to see mere boys promoted to full professors. Sproul took a close interest in the matter. He understood, as had his predecessor W.W. Campbell, that for Berkeley to keep and improve its place among research universities, he would have to offer inducements to innovative junior faculty that might scandalize their elders. He constituted the committee to consider Lawrence's promotion entirely of scientists, including Lewis and Birge, who shared his opinion that Lawrence was the very type of academic leader the University of California needed.
To defeat Harvard in 1936, Sproul had to discover fat in a budget that the Depression and the governor had already made lean. From Harvard's large endowments and still rich friends, its president, James B. Conant, proposed to draw salaries of $10,000 or $12,000 for Lawrence, $6,000 for Oppenheimer, and also something for McMillan; provisions for other new positions; the wherewithal for a very big cyclotron; and expenses for a large staff, if Lawrence would consent to become dean of Harvard's School of Engineering and Applied Science. The possibility of the simultaneous removal of the two stars in his firmament energized Birge, who gave it as his opinion that Lawrence and Oppenheimer were, respectively, the best experimental and theoretical physicists in the country and that their loss would utterly destroy Berkeley physics. Sproul invited Lawrence to state his conditions. He did not stint: a permanent staff for the current Laboratory, a new cyclotron and laboratory for medical research, a staff for the new installation, operating expenses. Sproul returned in a week with an offer of separateness, a staff for the Radiation Laboratory, and expenses, the whole amounting to a floor of $20,000 a year in state money,
and a promise to help raise funds for the medical work. This astounding response, at a time when the University's budget had not regained its level of 1931/33 and the administration had notified department chairmen that no expansion was possible, settled the matter. "I shall always be grateful to you for the honor of your confidence," Lawrence wrote Conant almost immediately after receiving Sproul's counteroffer. "It opened up possibilities for work here that a month ago I thought were quite out of the question."
The generous response of the University did not yet meet Lawrence's requirements. He had a missionary zeal to establish a medical department. He believed at the time that "the new penetrating radiations discovered [!] in our laboratory" had a good chance of curing cancer. A specialist at Caltech had told him—and he was very willing to believe—that if, as John Lawrence's experiments seemed to show, neutron beams killed tumors more efficiently than x rays, "it means that it will be possible to cure more than eighty percent of cancers." The possibility, as Lawrence told Poillon, obliged him to go wherever the opportunities to continue his work were greatest. Relocation at Harvard and administrative duties there would have been costly to the work. Its basis instead would be a very large cyclotron pledged by the Research Corporation and the Chemical Foundation; its place, a new building on the Berkeley campus, for which Sproul promised to find the money.
Poillon suggested that Sproul try William Crocker, the old banker who had given the Sloan plant to the Medical School. After all, Poillon wrote Sproul, it would only be fair to allow Crocker to upgrade his cancer equipment from x rays to neutron beams and artificial radium. Crocker had by then given almost $300,000 to the University. Sproul went to him for more. The
pitch: "No other project [the University] could support has greater potentiality for the alleviation of human suffering. . . . A Crocker Radiation Laboratory [would] be a lasting monument to the interest which [your] family has ever shown in public problems and the advancement of civilization." Mrs. Sproul remembered the result of this appeal, even to the dollar, forty-five years later. "He [Sproul] was on the verge of losing Ernest Lawrence to Texas [!], because Ernest wanted a little laboratory. Well, my husband said he didn't know where he was going to get the money [$75,000]. . . . Regent Crocker gave it. Lawrence was saved and the Crocker Radiation Laboratory . . . was born."
Mrs. Sproul's slip of "Texas" for "Harvard" referred to the third raid on Lawrence that Sproul had to meet during the 1930s. The president of the University of Texas, H.P. Rainey, required a vice president and was willing to pay $14,000 a year for a big man to push Texas into the front ranks of American science. Rainey had money from oil revenues to make a cyclotron much bigger than the Crocker machine. "He almost took me off my feet," Lawrence told Sproul, and added that he had promised to go to Texas if it proved impossible to build the super cyclotron in Berkeley. Sproul knew his part in the dance. "There is no more important business before the President of the University of California at this time than the resolution of any doubts you may have about continuing as a member of our faculty." The climate for funding was much sunnier in the fall of 1939, when Texas menaced, than it had been in February 1936, when Harvard called. Lawrence had become a national figure and medical money had supported cyclotrons throughout the country. Sproul countered Texas by helping to bring in the Rockefeller grant and by arranging for the University's matching money and a building site for the fifth-generation, 184-inch cyclotron above the campus.
The second of the four sets of wild cards was a suit of fellowship students from the United States, Canada, and Britain. Lawrence did not arrange for these fellowships himself, although sometimes he had a hand in securing their extension. Self-selected fellowship students made essential contributions to the work of the Laboratory. The third set of wild cards were important novelties found in Europe. The discoveries of artificial radioactivity and neutron activation were as much preconditions to the establishment of the Radiation Laboratory in 1936 as the Harvard offer and the contributions of students on external fellowships. The discovery of nuclear fission and the Texas offer functioned similarly in obtaining the 184-inch cyclotron and the laboratory on the hill.
The extramural prizes that certified Lawrence's status to his benefactors were the fourth set of wild cards. His first significant award, the Comstock prize of the National Academy of Sciences, came in 1937; it brought his picture to the cover of Time and medico-physical initiatives to the attention of the general public. The award of the Nobel prize in November 1939 may well have been the key to the jackpot of the Rockefeller Foundation.
The financial picture is painted in more detail in table 5.1. We have rehearsed the causes of the increasing contribution of the state: the high valuation of applied science in California, Sproul's special interest in Lawrence, Birge's concern to maintain Berkeley's standing in physics, and Lawrence's rising reputation. State support jumped by a factor of four in consequence of the Harvard offer (or by a factor of six, if the average of the early years is taken as basis). Between 1936/37 and 1940/41, when the University pledged another fourfold addition to the Laboratory's regular budget to secure the Rockefeller million, its direct support increased only marginally. (The large sum for 1937/38 included $17,000 for power lines to the Crocker Laboratory.) The most important benefit on the margin was provision of adequate secretarial help in the person of Helen Griggs, an English major who
worked part-time for Lawrence in 1938 and full-time beginning in May 1939. Griggs was a blessing to the Laboratory's historians as well as to its founder. Lawrence had worked through the secretaries in the Physics Department and kept track of expenditures himself. He would run up large overdrafts in the Comptroller's Office, or, what was worse from the University's point of view, bypass the Comptroller altogether; and he did not keep track
systematically of the Laboratory's staff and visitors. Griggs transformed the bookkeeping. From her time, that is, from AY 1938/39, we have systematic lists of grants received and appointments made and accounts of salaries and other expenditures. In 1939/40, she handled over $70,000 worth of business, more apart from salaries than passed through the Physics Department. Lawrence calculated that she was worth more than $1,200 a year. But Sproul, who had given her initial salary without hesitation, declined to raise it, lest the precedent undermine the exploitative principles regulating secretarial life. This, and refusals of requests for campus parking permits for the Laboratory's senior non-academic staff, indicate the level on which Sproul thought it safe to deny Lawrence anything.
What we would call the Laboratory's hard-money budget represented perhaps half of the state's ongoing investment in Lawrence's work. There were also the indirect costs of the building and its maintenance, and of the use of the Physics Department's shops and supplies; as well as the salaries of Lawrence, his graduate students holding teaching assistantships or university fellowships, and, in time, of assistant professors McMillan, Alvarez, and John Lawrence, who obtained a post in the University's Medical School, and Glenn Seaborg and Samuel Ruben, who had appointments in the Chemistry Department. The indirect costs elude quantification; the total in salaries ran at some $10,000 a year from 1932 to 1936 and at perhaps twice that from 1936/37 to 1939/40. To this accounting should be added the interest on the $17,000 investment in power lines; the University gradually recovered its outlay by reselling to Lawrence at 0.02 cents a kwh the power it bought from PG&E at half that amount. Much of the money Lawrence scurried to raise from outside sources went for electricity, around $10,000 annually in the late 1930s. Literally and figuratively, Lawrence paid for his power.
The state's was not the only public money that nourished the Laboratory. Both at its beginning, when it did physics and engineering, and after its entry into biomedicine, agencies of the federal government made critically important contributions. The magnet of the 27-inch cyclotron, valued at $30,000, had been paid for by the navy, although, as we know, it came as a gift from the Federal Telegraph Company. The navy further provided an electrical generator worth $500; not, perhaps, an important anticipation of the military-academic complex, but an indication of possible further benefactions. So much for the beginning. At the end, the Laboratory had two most important grants from the National Cancer Institute on the recommendation of the National Advisory Cancer Council (NACC). Lawrence was one of the institute's very first grantees.
Established by act of Congress in August 1937, the institute was authorized to support research projects that aimed at understanding or treating cancer. In early November a member of the NACC, Arthur Holly Compton of the University of Chicago, where two of the Laboratory's veterans were building a cyclotron, assured Lawrence (who had been lobbying him and his fellow councilman Conant) that something would be forthcoming. Lawrence notified the council's executive secretary of the "immediate and very pressing need" to complete the equipment of the Crocker Laboratory. Shielding, remote-control safety devices, and clinical furnishings would cost $18,000; the personnel to install and operate the equipment, another $12,000; in all, $30,000, which the council recommended at the end of November. It also appointed Lawrence and Compton a committee of two to propose ways to spend between $50,000 and $100,000 a year on the improvement of cyclotrons. (The National Cancer Institute had about $400,000 to spend annually.) Within a week Lawrence returned suggestions for the scattering of $96,500 among the country's cyclotron laboratories.
The $30,000 allowed completion of the medical cyclotron, but not its application to tumors. Lawrence returned to the NACC with his standard gambit—"It is almost unthinkable that the manifold new radiations and radioactive substances should not greatly extend the successful range of application of radiation therapy"—and a request for $23,000 for AY 1939/40. The sum, half of which went to salaries and a fifth to electric power, was awarded within a month of application. Lawrence had smoothed the way, again by lobbying council members Compton and Conant and by mobilizing colleagues and philanthropists close to the council: Karl Compton of MIT, Warren Weaver of the Rockefeller Foundation, and Francis Carter Wood of Columbia's Crocker Institute. The second NACC grant made possible the commencement of the clinical program of the Crocker Laboratory. Just as the medical application of the cyclotron was not foreseen when the 27-inch began to operate in 1932, the source of support for the clinical program was not foreseen—indeed, it did not exist—when the medical cyclotron was planned in 1936.
The federal package had two unwelcome trappings. For one, it came wrapped in red tape. The grant could not be processed at first because it was not submitted on forms acceptable to the Treasury. When money did begin to flow, it had to be metered to the dollar, every quarter, on forms that Lawrence had to certify; the press of bureaucratic fiddle-faddle brought Lawrence's secretary a secretary, and eventually the Laboratory its own business office. Almost as unwelcome, at least initially, were leaks and advertisements to the press of the possible relief from cancer by cyclotrons. Lawrence feared an onslaught of incurables and did receive pathetic letters from moribund cancer victims craving neutron irradiation as their last hope for life. The announcements also brought a rush of radiologists, eager to benefit mankind and
to share the council's money, to see how things were done in Berkeley.
Between the first big magnet and the last big NACC grant, the federal government assisted the Laboratory through the Work Progress Administration (WPA) and the National Youth Authority (NYA). The first such aid came from FERA, the Federal Emergency Relief Act, in 1934/35. Lawrence asked for support for three graduate students to do odd jobs and for an electrician and cabinetmaker. In 1935/36, Lawrence asked WPA for two instrument makers, a cabinet maker, a draftsman (a graduate engineer), and an electrician (a specialist in radio), to facilitate the Laboratory's work, "which, in turn, has important applications in medicine, particularly to the problems of cancer." The next year, as the Laboratory expanded its academic staff, it had a parallel increase in WPA manpower: three electricians, who rewired the Laboratory and installed additional electrical services; a carpenter by the name of House, who built a new floor, cabinets, shelves, and tables; two radio technicians, who worked on amplifiers and oscillators; a draftsman, who made all the working drawings for the apparatus and all the figures for published papers; two machinists, who provided auxiliary equipment for research; a clerk, who ordered and typed; and a young lady who autopsied rats and tested the blood of cyclotroneers. These ten free workers, who altogether cost the government some $8,500 a year if they worked halftime, constituted a very important asset, since they not only freed physicists from other work, but also assisted in experiments. Lawrence rated them "exceedingly valuable" and "urgently needed" in the Laboratory's "extended program of work, which may yield such important benefits to all of our citizens, and indeed to the whole world;" the WPA accepted the rating, and continued support at the same level for 1937/38.
There is no doubt that WPA help considerably advanced the work of the Laboratory. For a time, it supplied its entire shop staff, whose contributions were not only material. Birge had complained that the cyclotroneers tended to use more than their share of supplies and time in the Physics Department's shop, and although Lawrence's WPA shop did not supply all his needs, it helped to ease relations with the Department as well as research in the Laboratory. An enlightening difficulty then surfaced. WPA administrators desired that Lawrence acknowledge WPA help in papers from the Laboratory. Would the Research Corporation, the Macy Foundation, and the Chemical Foundation like to be thanked along with the emblem of the New Deal, the WPA? It seemed to Lawrence that they would rather not. What he had in mind appears from the reply of the Macy Foundation, which preferred not to share the limelight even with the Research Corporation and the Chemical Foundation and advised that no acknowledgement of WPA be made until after the presidential election of 1936. "For all we know it might be interpreted . . . as being subversive to the spirit of the Constitution and [as an indication that] we have something to do with sinister communistic tendencies."
Practical Poillon advised Lawrence to secure as much WPA help as he could and not worry further, since none of the foundations would make good the loss of WPA support. This license was what Lawrence wanted: "It seems to me entirely appropriate and in every way desirable to get as much W.P.A. assistance as possible for our work. Indeed, I believe that the Government should provide a great deal more support of scientific research." And then, an unusual disclosure: "Although I hoped and expected that Roosevelt would be reelected, I had no idea that there would be such a landslide. I think that it is really a tribute to the American public that they are not fooled and carried away by demagogu-
ery." Lawrence's Democratic leaning did not survive the decline in WPA help at the Laboratory, which set in in 1939. Support for laboratory assistants and gofers through the NYA remained constant, however, at about $1,200 a year, beginning in 1937.
We approach the foundations. We have already explained the sources of income and the purposes of the Research Corporation and the Chemical Foundation. Both foundations had been hit hard by the Depression, and Lawrence deserves our admiration, as it earned him his contemporaries', for "having tapped such an apparently dry well." In the grand year 1936/37, the Chemical Foundation behaved grandly and offered $68,600 for construction of the Crocker cyclotron, its accessories, and its operation. But it had overreached itself. Its German patents expired in 1937, and it could manage only $20,000; after the war it settled its outstanding obligations at 12 cents on the dollar. (Naturally Lawrence spent the entire pledge and the University had to make it good.) The Research Corporation was more careful. Beginning in 1936/37, it reduced its annual contribution to $5,000, to be used for physics research; it therefore helped importantly in keeping alive investigations of the type for which the Laboratory had been founded.
Lawrence shrewdly diversified his funding base before his requirements exceeded the resources of his first foundation backers. He openly declared his motives to the two physicists he admired above all others, in order, perhaps, to obtain absolution for deviating from fundamental science. In the summer of 1935 he wrote to Rutherford that he had not experienced the difficulty he had expected in raising expenses for AY 1935/36: "the possible medical applications of the artificial radioactive substances and
neutron radiation" brought what he needed. Late that year he explained the connection to father-confessor Bohr: "I must confess that one reason we have undertaken this biological work is that we thereby have been able to get financial support for all of the work in the laboratory. As you know, it is much easier to get funds for medical [than for physical] research." We may back this claim with numbers. About 35 percent of the total giving of the 115 largest foundations in 1937, some $13.5 million, went to medicine and public health, including $166,000 for cancer research and treatment; the biological and physical sciences received $2.3 million in all, of which only $17,000 was reckoned as direct support for physics research.
The angel of mercy and money for 1935/36 was the Josiah Macy, Jr., Foundation, established with a ledger value of $4.5 million in 1930 by Kate Macy Ladd, the daughter of the Quaker banker and philanthropist after whom she named her creation. On the advice of her doctor, Ludwig Kast, the donor expressed the wish that her foundation give special attention to medical problems that "require for their solution studies and efforts in correlated fields as well, such as biology and the social sciences." Lawrence had lanced Macy's purse once before, in November 1933. He had no idea then, however, of introducing biomedical research into the Laboratory; rather, he wanted Macy's to help pay for the development of apparatus and technique to produce neutron beams as intense as x rays. To what purpose? "There is some justification," the physicist Lawrence instructed the physician Kast, "for the belief that the discovery of neutron rays is of an importance for the life sciences comparable to the discovery of x rays." Kast thought the argument plausible; the Macy Foundation gave $1,000 immediately, another grant of $2,200 in the spring of 1934, and a third (the one mentioned in the letters to Rutherford and Bohr) of $3,300 in June of 1935. All had to do with improving neutron sources. The foundation declined a further request for AY 1935/36 to support "biological studies on
the effect of neutron rays." After the formal establishment of the Radiation Laboratory and its embryonic medical branch under John Lawrence, Macy did grant money for biological experiments, some $7,000 in AY 1937/38 and something again in AY 1938/39 through the Research Corporation.
The great neutron rays brought into existence with Macy money made possible biological experiments expensive enough to recommend recourse to the biggest spender of all the scientific philanthropies of the 1930s. The Rockefeller Foundation's Natural Sciences Division gave some $90 million during the decade in support of a single program, designed in 1932 by its director, Warren Weaver, who was trained as a physicist. The program might as well have been designed by Lawrence to meet the needs of the Radiation Laboratory after 1936: it encouraged the application of techniques and methods of physics and chemistry to the study of biology; in Weaver's classification of knowledge, cyclotron programs and isotope manufacture counted as "molecular biology." Moreover, improvement in the foundation's financial circumstances in 1936 and a new administration that favored basic science made it possible for Weaver to encourage even so demanding a supplicant as Lawrence.
In May 1937 Lawrence visited Weaver, who had visited Berkeley in January and come away impressed by the possibility that neutrons might prove more effective than x rays in the treatment of cancer. When asked whether the Laboratory might hope for
Rockefeller support, Weaver replied that it would be an honor to help. The honor came gradually, first as stipends for postdoctoral fellows, next, in 1938/39, as a large capital grant of $30,000 to insure safety around the 60-inch cyclotron. In the spring of 1939, as the big machine neared completion, Lawrence offered the Rockefeller Foundation more honor than it felt it could accept. He asked Weaver for $28,000 for the research program at the Crocker Laboratory for AY 1939/40, to be divided almost equally between the cost of cyclotron operations and the salaries of the staff. That exceeded Weaver's expectations. He knew about the application to the National Advisory Cancer Council and hesitated to pick up the larger share of a long-term project the first year of which cost over $50,000. He tendered instead a total of $50,000 over three years. Lawrence immediately recalculated that he could get by with $6,520 in salaries, $3,146 in supplies, and $7,000 in cyclotron operations, precisely $16,666, for the first year. He made up some of the shortfall from the John and Mary R. Markle Foundation (established in 1927 on the fortune of a coal dealer), which was similar in purpose to, and, in 1937, about twice as rich as, the Macy Foundation; and from the Finney-Howell Foundation (established 1937), a very modest organization (ledger value $350,000) set up to give fellowships for research on cancer.
Three miscellaneous sorts of contributions complete our account of the Laboratory's economy during the 1930s. The most evident of these were gifts in kind, for example, the transformer
oil and radio tubes from Federal Telegraph, the generators from PG&E and General Electric, and the lead shielding from American Smelting, which Lawrence and Leuschner obtained for the 27-inch cyclotron. The total market value of these ingredients was about $2,500. It is not possible to strike a total for items given or loaned during the next several years, for the preferential prices offered the Laboratory by electrical manufacturers, or for the expert advice given gratis by engineers at General Electric, Westinghouse, Corning, and Eastman Kodak. An indication of the diversity, scale, and importance of commercial assistance was the concession given by Paramount Studios on the unused ends of cinema film for cloud chamber photography. When the concession of 1 cent a foot, which saved the Laboratory $22.50 a month under the commercial rate, ended, Lawrence mobilized Sproul, who obtained the film gratis.
The least evident, smallest, and yet the most generous and useful contributor to the Laboratory's finances was Donald Cooksey, who became its associate director in the settlement of 1936. Cooksey's benefactions included subventions to needy students, fees for guest lecturers, tools for the Crocker cyclotron, and gifts to the "Lawrence Fund," a cache for all sorts of expenditures unsupervised by the Comptroller's Office, including grants-in-aid and no-interest loans to the more exploited members of the Laboratory's staff.
And the most important contribution of all: the labor of the uncompensated staff. As appears from table 5.2, the Laboratory had, on the average, at least three unpaid graduate students, two or three unpaid postdocs, one or two professors on sabbatical leave, and, beginning in AY 1933/34, never fewer than three, and
as many as seven, holders of extramural fellowships. (Only people who spent more than a summer or three months during the school year at the Laboratory are counted.) A minimum estimate of their value may be obtained from the minimum cost of living in Berkeley in the mid 1930s, which was low in comparison to the East Coast: $60 or $70 a month as judged by Lawrence; $870 a year according to the more particular Miss C.S. Wu (whom Lawrence esteemed as "the ablest woman physicist that I have ever known . . . and altogether a decorative addition to any laboratory"); $600 a year in the opinion of the Graduate Division, whose
fellowships in that amount easily provided room and board for the unfastidious ($25 a month per person double occupancy) and plenty of "rather slimy" Chinese dinners at 25 cents a head.
Postdocs and sabbatical professors needed more for efficient upkeep. A room at the Faculty Club, where many regular and visiting members of the Laboratory lived, rented for $15 or $20 a month; one at the Shattuck Hotel for $17 a month. A decent dinner cost 50 or 60 cents. Reckoning at $1,000 a man-year, the labor donated to the Laboratory between 1932/33 and 1939/40 came to at least $100,000. A fairer way to count would be to assign to each volunteer a stipend equal to that paid to members of the staff in the same category: graduate student, 75 cents an hour, or about $750 a year for half-time work; technical assistant, $900; postdoc, $1,200; journeyman physicist, instructor, assistant professor, $2,400; associate professor, around $3,600; professor, over $5,000. Using average values for visitors ($1,800 for fellows, $4,300 for sabbatarians), we make the free-labor contribution at least $155,000. The figure is evidently too low, since it omits the unpaid help of summer visitors, some of whom, like Cooksey, Kurie, John Lawrence, and Segrè before their appointments, contributed more in a few months than a graduate research assistant might in a year; and others of whom, for example, Alexander Allen, G.K. (Ken) Green, and Roger Hickman, learned enough to be able to start cyclotrons at their home institutions.
Table 5.3 compares the total values of goods and services, exclusive of university overhead, cost of buildings, and gifts in kind, during the two four-year periods into which the Laboratory's
early history falls. We arrive at a grand total of around $670,000 for the Laboratory's support during the 1930s. This is roughly equal to the entire sum that went to support all of American academic physics, exclusive of new plant, in 1900; to about half of the average annual value of gifts and bequests received by the University of California during the 1930s; and to about 1 percent of the cost of an up-to-date battleship in 1940.
One of Lawrence's greatest strengths as institution builder was his ability to attract able students and associates. He had left Yale primarily because he had not been allowed to direct dissertations there; he had immediately found what he wanted at Berkeley, and by 1930 he had more graduate students than any other member of the Physics Department. His youth, energy, ambition, camaraderie, and solid, if not original, research projects in atomic physics enlarged his circle. In these early years he paid no stipends to his students, although they functioned as his assistants, and he had no need to keep them on after graduation to capitalize their knowledge or technique. They supported themselves or held teaching assistantships in the Department.
Movers and Shakers
The shift to long-range machine development, particularly x-ray apparatus and the cyclotron, made continuity of personnel desirable and, in the cases of Sloan and Livingston, necessary. Since in the first years of cyclotroneering Lawrence's grants did not include much if anything for academic salaries, he obtained temporary appointments for his most valuable associates in the Physics Department. On finishing his degree and the 11-inch cyclotron in 1931, Livingston became an instructor; on finishing his tenure as a Coffin Fellow, Sloan became a teaching assistant. A new pattern emerged in 1932/33. Since the Department did not reappoint instructors for a second year, Lawrence faced the grave problem in the spring of 1932 of retaining the invaluable Livingston, who could not afford to work for nothing. Sloan's progress on his commercially promising x-ray machine brought in enough to keep both him and Livingston, who received a half-time salary for setting up and running the Sloan tube at the University of California Medical School. These were the first stipends Lawrence raised from outside sources. The Laboratory continued to provide for Livingston until the summer of 1934, when he transferred his art and his dependence to Cornell, and for Sloan until 1937, although
his back injury made him a semi-invalid in 1934 and 1935.
Lawrence preferred to pay as little as possible for assistance. Money for wages was the most difficult of all to raise, since the foundations had a policy—to which, fortunately for him, they did not strictly adhere—that "the universities should provide the salaries of their research men." Here the Depression helped. Several of the most useful members of the Laboratory, for example, Malcolm Henderson, Jack Livingood, and Donald Cooksey, having private incomes and few prospects, paid their own ways for a time. In addition, and of utmost importance, as the reputation of the Laboratory grew, postdocs came with their own fellowship money, bringing new blood, labor, and expertise at no cost, and further advertising the Laboratory when they left it. The most frequent sources of these external rewards were the National Research Council and various agencies within the British Commonwealth, which contributed, respectively, seven and nine postdocs to the Laboratory during the 1930s, several of whom stayed for two years or more. The records for longevity belong to McMillan, who arrived in 1932 as a National Research Fellow, and Robert Thornton, who came on a Canadian fellowship. Both made their careers in the Laboratory. And there were always visitors, not only transients but residents for many months, like Frank Exner, Ryokichi Sagane, and Maurice Nahmias, who came to learn about the machines and ended by working on or with them. They, too, cost Lawrence nothing.
Appointments in the Physics Department kept many of Lawrence's people alive. Some twenty of them had teaching assistantships and/or university fellowships, generally two years of support, during their stay; and in each of the years 1936, 1937, and 1939, Lawrence achieved the feat, more notable together than the invention of the cyclotron, of placing one of his associates—Edwin McMillan, John Lawrence, and Luis Alvarez—in an assistant professorship. John Lawrence came from a junior faculty position at Yale, McMillan and Alvarez from instructorships at Berkeley, to which they rose from paid assistantships at the Laboratory, which
followed on a fellowship (McMillan) and on work without pay (Alvarez). A placement with similar payoff, although not engineered by Lawrence, was the appointment of Glenn Seaborg as instructor in the Chemistry Department, where he arrived after two years' service as Lewis's research assistant and Livingood's chemist.
The settlement of 1936 brought several state-funded positions: a director, at $2,000 a year (Lawrence); an assistant director, at $3,000 (Cooksey); two postdoctoral research associates, who received a minimum of $1,000 each; and several technical assistants. Some incumbents of these assistantships made capital contributions to the development of the machines, in particular, Charles Litton, then already the proprietor of his own engineering works, who had designed power oscillators for the Federal Telegraph Company; William Brobeck, a mechanical engineer, who took over general planning for new cyclotrons; and John A. Harvie, who came as a machinist in 1938 and ended as head of the machine shops of the postwar Laboratory. Brobeck's long association with the Laboratory began in the summer of 1937 in the ordinary way: he volunteered his services in exchange for an opportunity to learn cyclotron physics. Lower down on the support ladder stood part-time technicians like Arthur Chick, who began in May 1933 assembling amplifiers, rose to odd jobs at the Laboratory and around the Sloan tube at the Medical Center, and left to succeed Coates at the Sloan tube at Columbia; Eric Lehmann, an electrician who helped around the cyclotron from 1934 or 1935 on; WPA workers; and the "charming . . . , smiling, witty" Helen Griggs, who spun the heads of several cyclotroneers.
The trepanning of the medical purse allowed further expansion of personnel by providing stipends for the men who made isotopes and the men who improved the machines. A telling example is Livingood, who, having worked for nothing from 1932/33 to 1936/37, received a stipend from a Macy grant in 1937/38. When he immigrated to Harvard in the fall of 1938, his salary became available to Emilio Segrè, then emigrating from Palermo to Berkeley. A more obvious indicator is the number and sorts of people engaged in connection with the medical cyclotron: engineer Brobeck; technician Winfield Salisbury, who returned to the University expecting to complete a graduate career interrupted by industrial employment but "worked full time on cyclotron development and was unable to take any more courses;" and biophysicists Paul Aebersold and Joseph Hamilton, who came to work with John Lawrence. In all, Lawrence's grants paid for at least fifty man-years of labor during the 1930s.
A chart of the Laboratory's primary academic workers—staff, students, and long-term visitors—during the 1930s indicates their impressive growth in numbers (table 5.4). During the first two years, 1930/32, when Sloan and Livingston set the technical basis of further advance, Lawrence had about five workers a year (plate 5.1). With the setting up of "the little grey rat-trap," the "original cyclotroneers training school," "cyclotron headquarters," "the Mecca of cyclotronists," that is, the Radiation Laboratory, the number of academic workers rose to an average of fifteen during the quadrennium 1932/36. Lawrence for once had more than he could handle, and briefly discouraged even volunteers from coming to Berkeley. Among these fifteen were Bernard Kinsey, Franz Kurie, Edwin McMillan, Arthur Snell, Robert Thornton, and Stanley Van Voorhis, all extremely able tenants of extramural postdoctoral fellowships. With the deed of independence of the Labora-
tory, generous state financing, and bountiful external support consequent on the clinical potential of radioisotopes and neutron beams, the Laboratory's complement of academic workers more than doubled, to an average of thirty-five during the quadrennium 1936/40. And that was by no means more than Lawrence then thought he could use: "The number of men that can be kept profitably at work in connection with a [cyclotron] project is almost unlimited." An account of the makeup of the Laboratory in a few representative years will put some flesh on these statistical bones.
Near the beginning of the first four-year period, in 1933/34, Lawrence had two unsupported graduate students at work on old business, photo-electricity (Cyrus Clark) and big sparks (Harvey White), and five on projects connected with accelerators. These were Leo Linford and Daniel Posin, who examined the debris from targets struck by high-speed mercury ions from Sloan's linac; Milton White, who used the 11-inch cyclotron to study proton-proton scattering; and Sloan and Hugh Paxton, who were trying to increase the intensity of the cyclotron's beams. Each of the six research associates of that year had his own project and most also collaborated in an intricate set of related researches: Kurie, a National Research Fellow, perfected his cloud chamber and studied neutron activation; McMillan, likewise a National Research Fellow, made his measurements on gamma rays, in which he was joined by Henderson, Livingston, and Lawrence; Henderson, self-supporting, and Livingston, on x-ray money, worked on deuteron disintegration; and Thornton, on a fellowship from McGill, and Bernard Kinsey, on a Commonwealth fellowship, tried to make a useful beam of lithium ions. These men brought not only the joy, but also the mess of research. "I have had to take on all the duties of a Director," Lawrence wrote his own thesis director, W.F.G. Swann, as he fought with the University to restore the janitorial services that had been discontinued as a Depression meas-
ure. "It would be manifestly impossible to get the fellows themselves to tidy up the Laboratory."
In the first full year of the Laboratory's independence, 1936/37, the number of Lawrence's graduate students rose to a dozen, of external Fellows to seven, and of paid staff to ten exclusive of himself and Cooksey. The fellowship holders were Paul Aebersold in radiation biology, with support from the Medical School; Donald Hurst, on a Canadian scholarship, and Arthur Snell, an 1851 Exhibitioner; Wilfred Mann and Harold Walke, Commonwealth Fellows; Fred Fairbrother, Leverhulme Fellow; and Stanley Van Voorhis, National Research Fellow. A second National Research Fellow, Dean Wooldridge, elected to resign his award in favor of a job at Bell Labs. The paid staff: Alvarez and John Lawrence, en route to assistant professorships; Dean Cowie, "an unusually ambitious and capable man and the hardest worker I have ever seen, yourself [Lawrence] included;" Count Lorenzo Emo Capodalista, who had learned his physics in Florence; Kurie, whose fellowship had expired; the perennial Sloan; L. Jackson Laslett and Paxton, now graduated, both of whom would soon go to Europe to help build cyclotrons; and the technicians Chick and Litton. There were also an unpaid Research Fellow (Livingood) and the free "Junior Research Associates," alias graduate students, Philip Abelson, David Kalbfell, Ernest Lyman, J.R. Richardson (on a University fellowship), and S.J. Simmons.
By the steady-state year 1937/38, there were some forty people attached closely enough to the Laboratory to be eligible for appearance in its group photograph (plate 5.2). Lawrence could not contrive to retain the growing number of senior people on his junior staff once their fellowship or parental support had run out. In this matter of jobs he was extremely generous, even self-denying; he encouraged outside offers to his best men, whom he hoped to retain, like McMillan and Alvarez. "I shall get as many
good offers as possible," he wrote McMillan in the spring of 1935, "and allow the decision for next year to be made by [the] individuals [concerned]." And he had no trouble collecting offers; by 1935 interest in cyclotrons had become "extraordinarily gratifying (indeed amazing)." Berkeley veterans were soon building machines all over the country.
Lawrence used the demand to bargain for regular rather than year-to-year appointments for his younger associates. In 1938, when ninety people applied for a single job in the physics department at the City College of New York, the Laboratory easily placed eight postdocs, each with several years' experience with the cyclotron, at leading research universities: Kurie, whom Lawrence recommended over Alvarez, went to Indiana; Langsdorf to Washington University in Saint Louis; Laslett, whom Cooksey rated over Kurie and Lawrence esteemed highly ("the outstanding graduate student [of 1936]"), to Michigan; Livingood to Harvard; Lyman to Illinois; Paxton, whom Lawrence likened to Milton White, successfully established at Princeton, to Columbia; Snell, whom Lawrence wished particularly to retain for cyclotronics, to Chicago; and Van Voorhis, "[a] storehouse of information . . . , a most amazing man," to Rochester. "What are you going to do for help next year when all your men are leaving?" a cyclotroneer from the East asked Cooksey. It was "very distressing," Cooksey replied, since they happened to be "one's best friends;" but their leaving would not cripple the Laboratory. There remained McMillan (whom Princeton had approached), Alvarez, and Brobeck, Cooksey reminded his questioner, and half a dozen postdocs, "all of whom know the game from A to Z," and, among the graduate students, "two or three new men who are tops, [and] who
already know the game." They, too, would be, indeed were, in demand. Lawrence invited MIT to make any offer it pleased to any of them; but no one very good, he warned, would go for anything less than an assistant professorship. Weaver worried that the exodus of 1938 might injure the Laboratory. Lawrence seemed unconcerned. "[He had] so many fine younger men coming on that he does not feel badly about giving up his more experienced men."
The growth of the Laboratory, the increasing complexity of its equipment, and the continuing diversification of its activities forced a formal organization of research and development. From 1930 to the spring of 1934, Livingston did everything, and Lawrence almost everything, from machine design and construction to nuclear physics; newcomers like Henderson, Kinsey, Kurie, Livingood, McMillan, and Thornton learned how to operate, repair, and improve the cyclotron and devised and carried through experiments using its beams. To be sure, the range of these experiments was not very great: many related to deuteron disintegration and to other nuclear reactions among the lighter elements in extension of, and competition with, the work of the Cavendish Laboratory. The discovery of artificial radioactivity stimulated a new line, the making of new isotopes, and the need for chemical analysis of unweighable substances as well as the usual investigation of half-lives and radiations. At first the new line was easily assimilated into previous practice. The number of investigators did not increase rapidly, the periodic table was scoured for new activities in the old rough manner, the chemistry required stayed elementary, and the means of production—the familiar, exciting, irritating, finicky, 27-inch cyclotron—still needed constant attention and frequent repair.
The need to supply radioisotopes for biological and medical research transformed life in the Laboratory. The quantities needed rose rapidly: not only were there many enthusiastic users, but the amounts required for an experiment in biological tracing, or, especially, in medical therapy, exceeded by perhaps a thousandfold what a physical or chemical study might employ. By the spring of 1937 the cyclotron was supplying radioactive materials for the researches of two dozen physicists, half a dozen biologists, and several chemists. Along with manufacture came pressure for innovation in both product and process. Besides making useful known isotopes for distribution, the staff sought systematically for new activities more suitable to the needs of the Laboratory's clients. Besides using the existing machinery, the staff worked to improve the cyclotron beam and target arrangements to make manufacture more efficient and to intensify the output of neutrons for possible clinical application.
Lawrence was not altogether happy about the reorientation of the Laboratory's work. His correspondence with Cockcroft, who stood in this case for the Cavendish and straightforward nuclear physics, took on a new tone: where before it had expressed enthusiasm and optimism, it now dwelt on dullness and routine. "Nothing surprizing has been turning up," he wrote in the spring of 1935, "simply measuring gamma ray energies and beta ray energy distributions, half lives and so forth." And again in the fall: "There is nothing particularly to mention now, excepting perhaps that we are finding that with 4.2 MV deuterons we can excite nuclear reactions over the entire periodic table. . . . Much of the work is of almost routine character, measuring half-lives, beta-rays, gamma-rays, transmutation functions, etc., from various radioactive substances by deuteron bombardment."
On November 30, 1936, Emo posted a blank sheet of paper and asked people to sign up for the shifts they preferred and to indicate the targets they wished to have irradiated for their own use. Two men constituted a shift, and six a day's "crew," under one of
its members as "captain" (the first captain was Livingood); the machine required tending from 8:30 A.M. until midnight, seven days a week. Crew service, as Lawrence wrote Wooldridge, was a part of the standard "laboratory apprenticeship;" perhaps the prospect helped Wooldridge to decide on Bell over Berkeley. It could be "downright drudgery," Abelson recalled, this working thirty hours a week on a crew, when, as in his case, the indenture came on top of service as a teaching assistant and the normal studies of a graduate student. Various technical improvements, which we shall describe in their place, insured that the machine did work almost daily. But little came out to delight a physicist. Lawrence wrote his conscience Cockcroft just before Christmas 1936: "The number of radioactive substances produced by deuteron bombardment is very large, and investigation of these has become almost a routine matter of little interest."
In the spring of 1937, with the addition of a new oscillator, the cyclotron worked so well that even its operation had "become a monotonous job." A visitor from Joliot's laboratory, Maurice Nahmias, learned that each week's duty fell to a six-man crew, who took it in turns, two at a time, "and they work on Sundays." A crew member did not pursue his own project, but executed a series of irradiations fixed in advance. "A perfect interchangeability and solidarity." The human part of the machine, like the cyclotron itself, was adjusted for maximum output. In May 1937, Lawrence added an owl shift, from 11:00 P.M. to 3:00 A.M., to make radiophosphorus for John Lawrence among others, and on July 4 the laboratory temporarily went on 24-hour operation, with four six-hour shifts a day, to meet the demands of biomedical research.
That became the recommended regime for a production cyclotron, which, Lawrence advised, should be in the care of an
experienced physicist and four graduate assistants. Without such discipline—without the dedication of graduate students to the machines—a large cyclotron could not be built or maintained. Where graduate students were not slaves to their thesis work and advisor, as at Cornell, there could be no question of "an intense nuclear program." Once again Lawrence summed up the year's work for Cockcroft and once again he apologized. "Much work in both nuclear physics and biology is in progress. There is nothing particularly exciting at this moment to report." The same smooth operation, averaging about twenty hours a day, resumed in 1938 after the enlargement of the cyclotron's pole pieces to thirty-seven inches, which also brought higher energies and greater yields. Typical excerpts from Lawrence's correspondence of the time: they were putting out 100 µA of 6.4 MeV deuterons, "almost night and day, most of the time manufacturing radioactive materials for biological experiments and clinical investigations;" the product consisted mainly of P32 , some 15 mCi a day for John Lawrence, and it was "getting awfully monotonous running the cyclotron."
In addition to working on a crew, each member of the staff and every postdoc had a specialty, which Nahmias itemized as follows in the spring of 1937: Cooksey, designing and planning; Alvarez, Hurst, Kurie, and Paxton, cloud chambers; Martin Kamen, Mann, Snell, chemistry; Cowie, Laslett, Van Voorhis, electricians; Litton and Richardson, cyclotron technicalities; Emo, amplifiers; McMillan, Livingood, Walke, counters and electroscopes; Aebersold, Nurse Condit, and John Lawrence, mice. These specialists were about to turn their expertise increasingly to the construction of the medical cyclotron, which took most of their time and energy by the beginning of the new year, and, as it neared completion, curtailed the operation of the 37-inch. Between the demands of the
new machine and the old manufacturing there was little time for physics. That bothered the abler men in the Laboratory.
In their autobiographies, Alvarez, Kamen, Segrè, and Thornton all comment on the inhibition to physics research presented by the Laboratory regime. Alvarez and Kamen associate this inhibition with the missing of the major discoveries in nuclear physics during the 1930s, particularly artificial radioactivity and fission; and Kamen further observes that perhaps the most interesting discovery from the chemist's point of view made among the radioactive output of the cyclotron—namely, element 43—was allowed to fall to Segrè's group of painstaking, and otherwise unoccupied, professors in Palermo. "Emphasis on keeping the machine running seemed exaggerated at times," Kamen recalls. The compulsion was particularly irksome during the scheduled sessions of neutron therapy: "The tensions created by these sessions plagued the crews badly, and they made a pill-popper out of Aebersold." Segrè remembered that most of the people at the Laboratory were more interested in the cyclotron than in the results obtained with it; Aebersold felt compelled "almost [to] eat and sleep on cyclotrons." Thornton laments that he did nothing very good in physics owing to preoccupation with machines and detectors. Robert Wilson rejected an offer to stay on at the Laboratory in favor of an instructorship at Princeton; as he later ambivalently evaluated the situation, "the sense of history being made" at Berkeley did not compensate for slavery to the cyclotron, "an activity that epitomizes team research at its worst." As the technological and administrative imperative strengthened, Cooksey discovered himself to be "only a 'hear-say' physicist . . . , so completely busy in putting through the construction and design of our new apparatus that I can do no experiments for myself." Lawrence lost track of the work altogether: "I do not even know what substances are being bombarded or exactly what is being done."
Nahmias, whose sensitivity to the Laboratory regime was enhanced by culture shock, judged that most of Lawrence's men preferred measuring the half-lives of new radioisotopes to doing physics and esteemed machine making—"a mania for gadgets or a post-infantile fascination for scientific meccano games"—over both. Rather than submit to such a regime, he decided to spend most of his seven months at Berkeley in Stanford, where he could learn some physics from Fermi, then visiting professor there. Again, Lawrence understood and to some extent apologized for the situation to physicist colleagues. "To all of us working with the cyclotron there is always an urge to do what seems to be the obvious thing to make the cyclotron work better, at the expense of actual nuclear research."
That was in January 1937, when Lawrence judged that half the work at the cyclotron went to improving it. Six months later, physics briefly had the upper hand when conversion to the 37-inch was slightly delayed to allow completion of promising experiments on the 27-inch. Then the balance shifted definitively in favor of the machine. Lawrence wrote Segrè: "We are all busy here, building the new medical cyclotron, and consequently some of us are not having as much time as we should like for nuclear research, but one cannot expect to do everything." Most cyclotroneers were willing to accept the trade-off most of the time. Perhaps their level of modest discontent was caught best in a letter from Emo written during a year's hiatus in his attachment to the Laboratory. "I would like to be back in the midst of you all and participate, even in small measure, in the doings and developments of the lab, and put in some small research, in between times, if possible."
The medical cyclotron forced a new level of organization. To facilitate its construction, Brobeck distributed the seventeen senior men into twenty interlocking committees, each with a specific and
detailed charge. As Kurie wrote, "In a cooperative project such as the operation of a large cyclotron no development is made without most of the staff participating." While in the organizational mood, Brobeck introduced preventive maintenance, in place of crisis management, of the cyclotron's plumbing. The first of his schedules, designed for the 37-inch cyclotron, included some twenty-four weekly checks, oil changes, and greasings, to be recorded on sheets "similar to those used in automobile service stations." When the big 60-inch came on line, the obligations of the staff enlarged as well. In June 1940, after a year's operation, Lawrence posted an announcement intended to correct the inefficiency introduced by research, thesis writing, and other academic exercises. "It is now expected that the senior men will assume full responsibility for certain phases of the work. This division of responsibility should make for a broader attack on all the problems and keep the work continually under management. Further, by placing the new members into groups under the senior members to work on particular phases of the work it is hoped that not only will the work progress in a more organized manner, but that thereby the newer members will be given a better chance to show their worth to the Laboratory." When the boss was in town, the work on the machines would proceed apace. When he left, the suppressed urge to add a mite to science would out. "Professor Lawrence has gone East for a few days, and everyone seems to think that was the signal to start working on papers."
This more elaborate group structure, a consequence of the forces at play within the interdisciplinary laboratory and of the need to meet external commitments, was a useful and even an inspired preparation for the role the Laboratory and its dispersed staff would take on during the war. The quasi-military organization, with its officers and cadets, suggests an extension of the analogy, already trite by 1940, between the cyclotron and an artillery piece. If the cyclotron was Big Bertha, cyclotroneers were her
disciplined attendants. This analogy was drawn by the University Explorer in describing his visit to the Laboratory in 1936, even before Emo published his first schedule. The Explorer likened the 27-inch to a machine gun, as usual, and the light from the external deuteron beam to "the glow released from billions of atom citadels bursting into conflagration." He then turned his attention to the "army": to commander Lawrence, who opened the "cartridge chamber" to expel the deuteron beam, and to corporals McMillan, Kurie, Livingood, and Cooksey, who operated the controls "like a disciplined squad."
Discontent with the increasingly structured regime was minimized by close social ties, by seminars and colloquia on wider subjects, and by the satisfaction of cooperative work toward an important objective unrealizable by a single individual. Morale stayed high. In 1934, before the expansion of the Laboratory and restraint on individual action, visitors praised Lawrence for "the wonderful spirit which you have allowed to develop among the men," "the 'pep' [you instill] into your students," "the splendid and enthusiastic group of physicists you have collected;" and Alvarez, shopping for a place for postdoctoral work, contrasted lackluster Caltech with "the enthusiasm which I liked so much at Berkeley." "The human energy concentrated there is wonderful."
The same and even more was said about the place by people who knew it in its organized state. Wilfrid Mann, a Commonwealth Fellow, 1936/38: "To know Ernest Lawrence is to know too why it is that the Berkeley cyclotrons give such incredible results. In the face of such irrepressible enthusiasm and such
joie de vivre difficulties hardly stand a chance." Otto Oldenberg, after spending a sabbatical from Harvard at Berkeley, advised readers of the Physical Review of "the spirit of cooperation among [Lawrence's] collaborators which makes the work at Berkeley so pleasant and profitable." "The Laboratory represents as fine a piece of cooperative effort as exists in the annals of science." Cooperativeness was the Laboratory's hallmark, and its test, "[being] capable of working well with the group," figured prominently in the recommendations for incoming postdocs. For those who liked the togetherness, "Berkeley was the greatest place in the world." As Kamen wrote many years later, and after a painful break with Lawrence: "It is impossible to describe the enthusiasm and zeal for accomplishment that pervaded the Radiation Laboratory in those magical years."
Tributes from short-term visitors were enough to make a strong man blush. Eugene P. Pendergast, M.D., radiologist, University of Pennsylvania: "I am writing to thank you for the greatest experience that I have ever had. A visit to your Department is just like a good tonic to an aging individual." Fred J. Hodges, M.D., roentgenologist, University of Michigan: "I have returned to Ann Arbor rested, considerably rejuvenated, and very deeply imbued with the enthusiasm and esprit de corps which pervades your entire organization." W.B. Bell, president, American Cyanimid: "The week which I spent with you, your brother, your associates and the cyclotron was one of the most thrilling in my experience." Marcus Oliphant, become professor of physics, University of Birmingham, and a tout for the cyclotron: "I know of no laboratory in the world at the present time which has so fine a spirit and so grand a tradition of hard work. While there I seemed to feel once again the spirit of the old Cavendish, and to find in you those fine qualities of a combined camaraderie and leadership which endeared Rutherford to all who worked with him. The essence of the Cavendish is now in Berkeley."
Camaraderie was promoted in many ways. The senior staff made clear the importance of the ordinary work by participating in it. Distinguished and appreciative visitors, including Niels Bohr and Arthur Compton; alumni who returned, almost by the dozen, during the summer; and organized tours, for inquisitive physicians, local schools, the National Congregationalists, the 4-H All-Stars, the Cheyenne Mountain Dancers; all this enforced the impression that the Laboratory was a special place and its members special people. Visiting scientists joined regulars at a Journal Club, which met every Monday evening, from 7:30 to 9:00, to discuss the latest letters to Nature and papers on nuclear physics, and at a seminar on nuclear physics, which met every Thursday afternoon at 5:00. The Journal Club existed as early as 1932. At first it discussed mainly work done in other laboratories, but as more people came to work in Berkeley, reports of their activities dominated the Monday meetings and constituted the chief source of scientific information of many of the participants. It was easy for Lawrence's students to conceive that the Laboratory occupied the center of the world of physics. In this connection we might construe Bethe's innuendo: "Quite generally the Rochester Ph.D.'s learn physics at the same time as cyclotronics, which distinguishes them favorably from their fellow cyclotronists."
Berkeley cyclotroneers enjoyed the consciousness of braving together other dangers than ignorance. During their working hours they basked in high-power radio waves. They shared quarters with John Lawrence's rats until the stink threatened to drive them from the building. They breathed natural gas used to detect leaks and had the satisfaction, when successful, of giving their names to newly found cracks, whose locations and eponyms accompanied the old 27-inch chamber when the Laboratory gave
it to a cyclotroneer at Yale. "There is one gruesome spot directly over a wheel bracket known as 'Luis's Hole' which you doubtless would never find;" it was the grand discovery of Luis Alvarez, who took in a lot of gas finding it.
Flying objects made more hazards: the boss himself was surprised by pliers jumping from his pocket to the cyclotron magnet, and by a loose piece of metal, which "nipped off the end of [his] finger." Then there was the constant risk of electrocution. Two Berkeley men, Coates ("[one of the] most cautious and careful workers we have ever had") and Walke, working elsewhere on Berkeley-style machines, were killed; Abelson came close to serious injury; and Jack Livingood received "a jolt that took him within an inch of oblivion," a 10,000-volt spark that jumped fourteen inches from the high-frequency generator to his head and thence, lucky for him, out his feet without crossing his chest. "It isn't possible to make the equipment foolproof when it is being rapidly altered," Lawrence said. The University ordered a thorough review, together with instruction in first aid. Gradually the Laboratory introduced interlocks and other electrical safety devices.
Perhaps the most satisfactory hazard for creating a feeling of community was neutron radiation, which, by 1938, had made almost all the metal in the Laboratory radioactive. Lawrence began to worry about its effects on bodies around the Laboratory in the fall of 1933; in 1934 he asked a professor of physiology to study the problem; in 1935 his brother John came to town and showed that "we have been giving ourselves undesirably great exposures to neutrons." Meanwhile the cyclotron had been
improved to yield 20 µA of deuterons at 4.3 MeV; they "all got the jitters," as did residents of the nearby chemistry building, and moved the cyclotron controls thirty feet from the beryllium target. We shall describe later the precautions taken after 1935 and the radiological research and therapy to which study of the danger gave rise. The Laboratory had good luck. The blood counts taken now and again during the late 1930s show evidences of overexposure only in the case of Robert Cornog, who inadvertently stuck his hand in the deuteron beam. No delayed effects of radiation unambiguously attributable to exposure at the Laboratory had been identified by 1947, when Dean Cowie came down with cataracts, apparently caused by neutrons during the running in of the 60-inch cyclotron at the Carnegie Institution in 1943/44. Although in 1939 Lawrence rated the Laboratory as safe as his own home, the Aetna Life Insurance Company, to whom he adressed this extraordinary statement, preferred to treat members of the Laboratory as uncommon risks.
Morale was kept up by pleasure as well as by danger, by lunches, picnics, parties, joint vacations, and other collaborative amusements. The men who lived for years at the Faculty Club (Cooksey, McMillan, John Lawrence, Seaborg, Snell, and Van Voorhis) necessarily saw one another socially. Lawrence presided over a daily lunch at the club and set an example of wholesomeness as well as of accessibility by a diet of cornflakes, milk, and strawberries. An annual dinner at DiBiasi's Capri Italian restaurant gave opportunity for cracks and charades at the expense of the boss in imitation, perhaps, of similar fun at the Cavendish and at Bohr's institute in Copenhagen (plate 5.3). An excerpt from
one of these entertainments will indicate the spirit, the gripes, and the affection felt by the staff:
I means intensity—our first main objective. . . .
M must mean mice whose smell makes us moan,
N stands for neutrons, of moment unknown. . . .
S now is store-room, a creation of Jack's—
T can't be tidyness, for this the lab lacks. . . .
W is for wax, which we smear on like fools;
X hides the unknown location of tools.
The Christmas jokes were carried through the year in a special argot that distinguished cyclotroneers from the rest of mankind. An example of this "lingo (one could hardly dignify it with the term nomenclature)": "spilling soup into the can made a few mikes," which, translated, signifies that putting power into the dees caused a beam of a few microamps.
Serious attachments arose with the easing of social barriers. Cooksey and Seaborg competed for Helen Griggs, who chose Seaborg; Cooksey rebounded to Millicent Sperry, a secretary in the Physics Department. Several other cyclotroneers married women in or close to the Laboratory. Lyman picked a fellow graduate student, a spectroscopist; Aebersold took "a very sweet little girl from the Purchasing Department;" Laslett ran off with Barbara Bridgeford, a graduate student in social welfare, who preceded Griggs as Lawrence's part-time secretary; and, a masterpiece of intermarriage, McMillan won Molly Lawrence's sister Elsie. Perhaps the most important mechanism for the socialization of the researchers was Donald Cooksey, who not only was kindly to all on the job, lent money to people in need, and acted as gracious host to visitors, but also operated his own rest and recreation facility at his country retreat in Northern California. When he deemed a vacation to be in order, he would send the sufferer up to camp, where he also entertained visiting cyclotroneers. His surviving guest book, which begins in 1939, shows very few people
not connected with the Laboratory. The most frequent guest was Helen Griggs; others who visited twice or more were Aebersold, Brobeck, Kamen, the Lawrence brothers, McMillan, Segrè, Thornton, and Robert Wilson. A final reason for high morale, no doubt, was the excellent prospect for a permanent position outside Berkeley enjoyed by anyone who won Lawrence's support.
The camaraderie and solidarity had a negative aspect that struck that oversensitive detector Nahmias. He found that although most of the workers in the Laboratory were informative and agreeable, a few weeds, watered by the stream of visitors, had developed "a superiority complex that makes them insufferable even to some of their colleagues." They ridiculed French work and laughed at the difficulty Joliot was having in setting up a cyclotron; against which lèse-majesté Nahmias retorted that it was not a Berkeley man but Joliot, working without a cyclotron and in a contaminated laboratory, who had discovered the artificial radioactivity on which the Laboratory had come to flourish.
Furthermore—always according to Nahmias—more jealousy and animosity afflicted the staff than he had noticed in any other university in Europe or America. These unpleasant qualities are not necessarily expunged by cooperation and solidarity. Jealousy readily arises in the sacrifice of the individual to the group, which was necessary, in the opinion of the loyal Franz Kurie, to the health of the Laboratory: organization into disciplined interdisciplinary teams made possible the prompt exploitation of "byproducts of the elucidation [of the nucleus that] have shown themselves to be of untold value to other sciences." But working for others and receiving little credit for it do not bring satisfaction to everyone. Team research always has the potential of arousing the sorts of feelings that Nahmias detected.
As for animosity, Nahmias perhaps responded to an undercurrent of xenophobia that may be regarded as the negative side of the feeling of pride and community for which the Laboratory was conspicuous. During the 1930s the Laboratory's reception of
foreigners who were neither distinguished nor British was not exemplary. Here many obscure forces were at play: a wish in the nation as a whole to have nothing to do with European affairs; a strong feeling against aliens in California, which expressed itself in, among other things, a state law prohibiting the employment of noncitizens by state institutions except under special conditions; and the diffuse anti-Semitism, exacerbated by job shortages during the Depression, found in many American universities in the 1930s.
The University of California prided itself, rightly, on being relatively free from anti-Semitism. Its vice president, Monroe Deutsch, himself a Jew, told the campus Hillel Foundation, "There is less prejudice at this university than at any other institution in the country," and the foundation agreed. Berkeley was "a student's paradise . . . , [where] Jewish scholars, the world over, will always find a place for themselves." And yet, it allowed, its members found discrimination and intolerance enough. There was open exclusion from some campus social groups and from organizations to which faculty belonged, like the tony Bohemian Club of San Francisco, to whose retreat Lawrence liked to take visiting dignitaries like Poillon. The Laboratory was not the Bohemian Club: it had two productive and appreciated Jews on its staff, "our chemist" Kamen and Segrè; but it certainly did not seek to multiply their number. Except for Segrè, who came as a visitor, not as a refugee, the Laboratory reaped no benefit from the pool of émigré physicists, and apart from help to transients marooned by outbreak of war, it did not devote any of its substan-
tial resources to assisting displaced European scientists. It did not "profit by the stupidity and brutality of the German government," as Deutsch had urged. In this respect the Laboratory and the departments of Physics and Chemistry behaved quite differently from the Mathematics Department and Stanford's Physics Department, where "there [was] a phantastically high density of physicists of European extraction."
This is not to say that the Laboratory was openly or consciously discriminatory. On the contrary: Lawrence invited Lise Meitner to come for a visit, if she could pay her travel expenses, when the Nazis began to threaten her. (She escaped via Holland and found refuge in Sweden.) That appears to be the only instance where Lawrence took the initiative. The usual situation may be illustrated by the case of Stanislaw Mrosowski, a spectroscopist from the University of Warsaw who planned to spend a sabbatical in the Laboratory learning cyclotronics. Mrosowski was en route in Chicago when the Germans invaded Poland. Anticipating that the Polish government would not be able to pay his salary, he asked for a small stipend from the Laboratory to tide him over. Lawrence and a colleague in the Physics Department, F.A. Jenkins, generously undertook to supply something for six months or so: "All of us [Lawrence wrote] are deeply sympathetic with the tragic misfortune that has befallen Poland." Meanwhile, Jenkins had telegraphed Robert Mulliken at Chicago for an "objective description" of Mrosowski. Mulliken knew perfectly well what that meant and wired back: "In doubt whether Jewish. Tall thin about 40. . . . Nice wife not Jewish." And again, after applying to the party concerned: "Himself says he is not Jewish but entirely Slavic. Our impressions generally favorable." Here is another
subtle indicator of the general situation. A physician wishing to work with John Lawrence thought it useful to gloss his previous employment at leading Jewish hospitals. "Because of [this] experience . . . , I am sometimes considered Jewish. This, I can assure you, is not true."
The implied bias obtruded occasionally in the correspondence of Lawrence and Cooksey, both alumni of Yale, where, as Lawrence well knew, Jews were "under a handicap." The kindly Cooksey thus recommended a cyclotroneer for election to an Eastern club: "His name would indicate that he is not Jewish. . . . I am quite confident that he is not Jewish. . . . I am quite confident that he would be perfectly all right at the Club." And here is Lawrence in praise of Kamen: "He is Jewish and in some quarters, of course, that would be held against him, but in his case it should not be, as he has none of the characteristics that some non-Aryans have. He is really a very nice fellow." But again, as this forked evaluation shows, Lawrence did not withhold support or friendship from a Jew who had shown himself to be a very nice fellow. He liked Otto Stern, "a very jolly, pleasing personality," and also Isidor Rabi, "a very fine person," both of whom he supported for the Nobel prize in physics; he professed "the highest regard for [Kamen's collaborator Ruben], both as a scientist and a man," when advancing Ruben for a prize from the American Chemical Society; and he regarded Segrè as "an extremely good man," although not one he intended to retain at the Laboratory for any length of time.
No doubt Nahmias, a Jew who did not rise to the rank of fine fellow, felt as antagonism the diffuse and subtle bias just described. There was another component to the Laboratory's xenophobia that Nahmias, who had had a good, solid European
education, also experienced. The culture of many members of the Laboratory was parochial. They knew no languages (the Laboratory kept a WPA worker translating articles from French and German) and little history or literature; they had small basis, apart from openness and goodwill, for sympathy with people from backgrounds much different from their own; and they were busy getting on in the world.
The Widening Gyre
As a member of the Laboratory cycled through his apprenticeship, the center of his motion was, of course, Lawrence, who ultimately assigned duties and stipends, approved research projects and the publication of research results, and found jobs for journeymen cyclotroneers. His first revolutions occurred, as we have seen, in synchrony and usually in harmony with other members of the Laboratory. As his knowledge increased, he might spiral further out, occasionally colliding productively with members of Oppenheimer's group, of the College of Chemistry, or of the Medical School. Further turns might bring interactions with people from Stanford or Caltech, until—to finish with the analogy—the complete cyclotroneer would shoot forth from the Berkeley machine to build elsewhere what he had been taught to build at home. We shall examine a few turns of the spiral.
In the beginning, until 1935, the disciples, or some of them, worked directly with the prophet, or, better, "the high priest." But as the administrative burden and the complexity of the machine increased, Lawrence became more and more removed from the work and workers in the Laboratory. He could be very generous to his students—some parents praised him lavishly for his kindness to their offspring—but he could also be impatient and
unreasonably demanding when the machine stopped. His impatience was enhanced by his frequent colds, picked up on his travels. He was often away from the Laboratory lecturing, at meetings of the National Academy of Sciences or the American Physical Society, and fund-raising (which he did to greatest effect in person in New York, where all his main supporters among foundations had their headquarters). These trips occupied more time than they need have done, since Lawrence insisted on going by train; he had worked out that flying was dangerous, that the chance of a fatal accident in a round trip from San Francisco to New York was one in a thousand, and would have nothing to do with airplanes. No doubt the long journeys by rail were necessary to him for quiet relaxation and unhurried future planning. After the settlement of 1936, Lawrence was in Berkeley long enough to encourage the staff and create his family. Otherwise he left the execution of his plans to Cooksey.
Lawrence retained his boyishness and ebullience for successes of the Laboratory and for approaches to his backers. It was only natural that he would come to identify with the men of wealth on whom he had come to depend and who appeared to like his company. He enjoyed the entertainments of New York bankers and brokers; he liked the style of Alfred Loomis, whose patronizing of the Laboratory, which began late in 1939, included a weekend at the plush Del Monte Hotel in Carmel for the Sprouls, the A.H. Comptons, the Vannevar Bushes, and the E.O. Lawrences. In these tastes and associations, Lawrence was followed, as in much else, by Alvarez. In the same line, Lawrence set some store on
family background; whenever the ancestry of his students permitted it, he would include in his letters of recommendation the irrelevance that they came "of good family." He came to dislike nonconformity (to his ideas!) and liberal causes, to hold that "science is justified only to the extent that it brings substantial riches to mankind," and to declare research scientists—among whom he enrolled himself—to be "essentially conservative people." In these sentiments he disagreed altogether with his colleagues Urey, A.H. Compton, and, closer to home, Oppenheimer, whose personal style influenced the apprentice theorists at Berkeley at least as much as Lawrence's helped define the cyclotroneer.
The contrast between the two men is the stuff of stories. Lawrence grew up in rigid and rigorous South Dakota, worked during high school, learned to build radios, went into physics, knew little else, had no regrets, never doubted his way. Oppenheimer came from a wealthy Jewish family, grew up surrounded by books and pictures, attended the indulgent Ethical Cultural School, collected beautiful rocks, had literary ambitions, drifted into physics, suffered severe depressions. He also suffered from cultural ambitions, which caused him to learn, or affect to know, diverse languages, good food and wine, the best in music, painting, and books; he would take girls to dinner and read them Baudelaire; he sketched in charcoal and painted in oils; at Berkeley he studied with professors of Sanskrit, read Plato in Greek, and, what was worse, talked about it. They moved in opposite directions
politically under the strong polarizing forces of the late 1930s. Lawrence trusted that the world would muddle through without requiring his attention. He had faith in the great powers, which, he thought, had established at Munich that international disputes would be settled by peaceful negotiations; "I am not concerned about the political atmosphere," he reassured Cockcroft, concerning a meeting in Europe planned for September 1939, "which I personally think will be all right." Oppenheimer did not allow the world to get on without his help. While Lawrence drifted complacently to the right, he rushed to the left, to the support of the Spanish Loyalists, American labor, and other pinkish causes.
It might therefore appear astonishing that from Oppenheimer's first semester at Berkeley in 1929, he and Lawrence were fast friends. His Jewishness bothered him more than it did Lawrence; as one of his Harvard professors once wrote, by way of recommendation, "Oppenheimer is a Jew, but entirely without the usual qualifications of his race." The basis of their friendship was their fundamental honesty, kindness, and openness, qualities each would soon enough come to compromise. They also shared a liking for, and for showing off, feats of physical prowess. Oppenheimer delighted in long journeys by horseback through remote reaches of New Mexico and surprised those foolhardy enough to accompany him by his stamina. Lawrence visited the Oppenheimer family retreat near what became the Los Alamos Laboratory once or twice, but preferred to take his exercise on the tennis court or in a small boat bought with the proceeds of the Comstock prize. "He plays a good game of tennis," said the Scientific American , "[and] has a cruising boat on San Francisco Bay that he won't take out unless there is rough water."
At the professional level, Lawrence and Oppenheimer esteemed each other as physicists, recognized each other's ambitions, saw that they did not conflict, and possessed the tie natural to the men expected by their Department to raise Berkeley physics to national distinction. "For all his sketchiness, and the highly questionable character of what he reports," Oppenheimer wrote, "Lawrence is a marvelous physicist." "He has all along been a valued partner," Lawrence allowed in support of Oppenheimer's promotion to full professor. He might have added: "His physics [is] good, but his arithmetic awful." Where Lawrence misinterpreted and mismeasured, Oppenheimer erred by factors of 100 or 1,000. When he was close. Here is a compliment from a German theorist who followed his calculations for pair production: "Oppenheimer's formula . . . is remarkably correct for him, apparently only the numerical factor is wrong."
Oppenheimer himself did not trust the theories he elaborated. He wrote his brother in 1932: "The work is fine: not fine in the fruits but the doing. . . . We are busy studying nuclei and neutrons and disintegrations; trying to make some place between the inadequate theory and the revolutionary experiments." And again, in 1934: "As you undoubtedly know, theoretical physics . . . is in a hell of a way." For a time Lawrence thought that Gamow would be more helpful than Oppenheimer; but he could offer only theoretical dollars, and nothing came of his effort to bring Gamow to Berkeley. Thereafter Lawrence and his Laboratory had only the theoretical advice they obtained casually from Oppenheimer's group and from an occasional short-time visitor. It is likely that Lawrence shared the views of his old friend Ernest Pollard of Yale. "To tell the truth, I don't absolutely think any current
nuclear theory worth much, but theoreticians regrettably have the power to divert thought from a constructive interpretation of experiment which doesn't agree with the present pervading jargons."
The most productive interaction between Lawrence's and Oppenheimer's groups concerned the hypothesis of deuteron disintegration, which Oppenheimer at first accepted fully and with a certain pleasure: "that makes, as far as I can see, a hopeless obstacle to Heisenberg's pseudo q.m. [quantum mechanics] of the nucleus." But the implausibility of the consequent character of the deuteron gave him pause, and he accepted the explanation of contamination long before Lawrence did. From the shambles, as we know, he and his former doctoral student, Melba Phillips, extracted the Oppenheimer-Phillips mechanism, which did help importantly in the interpretation of disintegration experiments at the Laboratory. There are a few other cases of productive interaction beyond the mixed advice Oppenheimer gave at the weekly seminars: his postdoc Robert Serber's analysis of the proton-proton scattering experiments of Lawrence's student Milton White; McMillan's measurements of absorption of g rays, in rough confirmation of calculations by Oppenheimer and Furry; and Oppenheimer's explanation of Henderson's results on the energy dependence of the disintegration of lithium by protons.
These interactions belong to the early years, when Oppenheimer felt a responsibility to help to elucidate disintegration. After 1936 the most useful of Oppenheimer's group for Lawrence's work was Sydney Dancoff, who pushed the theory of isomeric and radioactive transitions beyond what the European theorists had achieved and did not disdain to calculate the absorption of neutrons in the
cyclotron's water shielding. This unusual interest on the part of an Oppenheimer theorist in problems central to the Laboratory inspired a still rarer thought on Lawrence's part, one perhaps not expressed since the unsuccessful approach to Gamow: the thought of adding a theorist to the Laboratory's staff. Oppenheimer did not think that a very promising employment, and Dancoff went to join Serber in Urbana.
A rough measure of the closeness of the two groups may be obtained from an analysis of the composition of the thesis committees on which Lawrence served during the 1930s. Between 1931 and 1941 inclusive, thirty-seven theses were completed under these committees, twenty-one of which had Lawrence as nominal director. His associates on the thirty-seven committees divide into two classes, those with six to eight appearances and those with three or fewer, except for Leonard Loeb, who figures four times. Those in the first class: experimentalists R.T. Birge (units), R.B. Brode (cosmic rays), F.A. Jenkins and H. White (spectroscopy), theorist Oppenheimer, and chemists G.N. Lewis and Willard Libby. Perhaps the strongest showing was Libby's, who tied with Oppenheimer with eight appearances, on half of which he was the principal reader. On this showing, Lawrence's students—that is, students in experimental nuclear physics who had Lawrence as their nominal thesis director—were no closer to Oppenheimer than they were to any other active member of the Physics Department or to chemists interested in nuclear processes.
The makeup of these committees does not indicate anything about casual consultation of Oppenheimer or his students by perplexed members of the Laboratory. For graduate students, we have some measure of the extent of this consultation: six of them who had Lawrence but not Oppenheimer on their committees thank both Lawrence and Oppenheimer for advice. Also,
Oppenheimer's students occasionally did a calculation or elucidated a theoretical point for Lawrence's: for example, Willis Lamb's explanation of Laslett's failure to detect decay in Na22 and Eldred Nelson's collaboration with Alvarez and Carl Helmholz on the behavior of isomeric silver nuclei.
Just as many (we do not say all!) of Lawrence's "boys" adopted his rough-and-ready approach to physics and had little time or interest in much outside the Laboratory, so Oppenheimer's aped his gestures, tried to acquire his tastes, went to concerts, and talked books, art, and politics. A Lawrence man rushed through his preparation, knowing that, if he did well, he would have a choice of eligible positions; an Oppenheimer man proceeded with greater leisure, knowing that the art was long, and "jobs for theorists . . . not too common." The divergent cultures of the theorists and experimenters, the problematic state of nuclear theory, the peculiar fascinations of the cyclotroneers, and the increasing importance of biomedicine in the Laboratory worked to prevent the development there of the sort of theory-driven experiments that mark the big-machine physics of the postwar era.
Perhaps more important for the direction of nuclear science at the Laboratory than its relations with Oppenheimer's group and even with the entire Physics Department was its interactions with the College of Chemistry. Besides Lewis and Libby, there was Seaborg, who became the Laboratory's most productive chemist in 1937. As an instructor in the College of Chemistry, which he became in 1939, after two years of easy service as Lewis's assistant, Seaborg brought excellent doctoral students to do nuclear chemistry around the cyclotron, with consequences that were literally earthshaking. Another young chemist closely associated with the Laboratory, Samuel Ruben, worked with Kamen and the
radioisotope C11 on the mechanism of photosynthesis. Their discovery of a better tracer, C14 , was one of the high points of the Laboratory's prewar work.
Spiralling further out, Lawrence's people had an opportunity, not frequently seized, of easy exchanges with their colleagues at Stanford. When Felix Bloch, a theoretical physicist with the highest European pedigree, took up an assistant professorship at Stanford in the fall of 1934, he and Oppenheimer began joint weekly seminars, three-quarters of which were held at Berkeley. This interchange resulted in collaborations between Bloch and Oppenheimer's students and between Bloch and Alvarez, and in the inspiration for an investigation by Laslett. The work of Alvarez and Bloch on the magnetic moment of the neutron was probably the most advanced piece of exact physics done at the Laboratory during the 1930s. Stanford also offered the advantage of a summer course by a visiting theorist; we do not know how many of Lawrence's people besides Nahmias took the opportunity or trouble to go to Stanford to hear Gamow, Victor Weisskopf, Rabi, John Van Vleck, or Fermi. Nor have we been able to trace much useful interaction where it might be expected, between the Berkeley cyclotroneers and the applied physicists in and around Stanford, William Hansen and the Varian brothers. These men also had an interest in accelerators, but for electrons, not ions. Their "rhumbatron" and "klystron," which did not interest Lawrence in the late 1930s, came to play a part at Berkeley during the war.
We count that the Laboratory had some fifty-four regular members from 1932/33 through 1939/40, "regular" meaning, for our purposes, persons working to prepare for a career in science.
Established people, who came on sabbatical or fellowship leave, volunteers without career ambitions, and undergraduates who left without obtaining a degree, do not count as regulars. The fifty-four distribute into two groups in two different ways: (A) graduate students who obtained a Berkeley Ph.D., not necessarily by 1940; (B) people who came as fresh postdocs; (I) members of either group who left the Laboratory before the war; (II) members of either group who returned to, or remained in, the Laboratory for war work. The numbers involved appear in table 5.5. Half the Ph.D.'s and three-fifths of the postdocs, some twenty-nine people in all, made up the Laboratory's export of manpower during the 1930s. Of these, two out of three went to build or perfect cyclotrons elsewhere: they are our "cyclotroneers in partibus." They and their destinations are listed in table 5.6.
The first of the agents or disciples in partibus was Livingston, who styled himself a missionary and was expected to effect a miracle. In 1934 the Cornell physics department had just fallen under
the control of R.C. Gibbs, an ambitious and prescient man, who decided to plant nuclear physics in Ithaca in the hope that a flourishing research tradition would grow in its shade. He brought in Livingston and, the following year, Bethe, as assistant professors to cooperate in establishing a theoretical and experimental program in nuclear physics. They did so successfully; but it proved impossible to continue development of even a sixth-scale version of the Berkeley Laboratory. The fundamental obstacle, which all cyclotroneers encountered in one degree or another, was lack of staff. Crew service had no appeal high above Cayuga's waters. Furthermore, although Cornell warmed to the cyclotron gospel, Gibbs had other interests to further as well and his even-handed
division of departmental assets hampered the expansion of capital-intensive units. Therefore, although Livingston built a small and effective cyclotron in good time (it gave 3 or 4 µA of 2 MeV protons within a year), and although he and Bethe worked productively together, he felt stifled as a cyclotroneer. As far as cyclotrons are concerned, as Lawrence was to say, "the larger the better." In 1938 Livingston went to MIT as associate professor of physics to build a cyclotron larger than Berkeley's 37-inch.
The problem of understaffing was met in part by collecting more than one man with Berkeley experience at one place. That occurred with the second cyclotron built outside the Laboratory, at Princeton, by Milton White and Malcolm Henderson; it, too, took about a year to make, but, unlike Livingston's machine at Cornell, it was larger (36-inch poles) than its original when it came to life in 1936. Other examples of double teaming: the machines built or started by Berkeley pairs, as at Illinois (the second cyclotron there), Indiana, and Saint Louis; machines begun by visitors to the Laboratory and finished by regulars, as at Chicago, Harvard, Michigan, and Rochester; machines started by foolhardy types without Berkeley experience and finished with the help of one or more men from the Laboratory, as at Cambridge, Columbia, Copenhagen, Liverpool, and Paris. The mutual dependence of these young men entrusted with large and costly projects comes out eloquently in a late night letter from Thornton, then at Michigan, to Cooksey. "There are so many things under way my nerves get on edge and I am pursued by doubts. Reg [J.R. Richardson] is a great help in really discouraged moments—someone to chew with, with a proper flippant attitude towards cyclotrons."
Most cyclotroneers in partibus had to adjust their rates of performance and their levels of expectation. No one worked to Lawrence's pace. "It does take more time to get things done here in the East," Livingston discovered, pointing to a lack of "the complete stock of small things such as wires, insulation, adaptors, etc., that make things move so fast at Berkeley." Exner contrasted "the California habit of speed" with "the lethargic East." "If I haven't written you before," White wrote from Princeton, "that is because I am ashamed of the lack of progress here." The Laboratory ran almost at full tilt during summers; it came as a great surprise to Lyman, when he arrived to take up his job at Illinois in August 1938, that the physics department was closed. "The deadest place you have ever seen. . . . They take their vacation seriously around here."
The men who went to help finish cyclotrons abuilding on the Continent expressed a double culture shock. Laslett, in Copenhagen: "Here things seem to be taken with reasonable calmness and if I work at night until . . . say 10:00 P.M., I feel like a scab in a fink joint." Taking things calmly, Laslett went on vacation with Otto Frisch, who was expected to be the director of the Copenhagen cyclotron. It was not Frisch but Laslett who felt obliged to cut short his tour to try a new improvement on the machine. The metabolism of the Danish physicists ran at a Berkeley pace, however, in comparison with the pulse in Paris, where Paxton found his colleagues harder to move than their 30-ton magnet.
The ex-Berkeley cyclotroneers formed a brotherhood, to use White's word. The European branch—Sten von Friesen, Hurst, Kinsey, Laslett, Walke—met in England, then in Denmark and Sweden, and planned a session in Lapland. The midwestern brotherhood—those at Chicago, Illinois, and Indiana—exchanged visits and provided overnight stops for Lawrence or Cooksey, hurtling East or West. The brotherhood on the Atlantic seaboard—
those at Bartol, Columbia, Harvard, MIT, and Princeton—were the ciceroni on a standard cyclotron tour. In Livingston's analogy, the cyclotron laboratories were like the California missions; located from the Midwest eastward at convenient intervals, they assured travelling cyclotroneers a welcome and a place to stay or work. When the Great Cyclotroneer himself appeared, miracles occurred: Lawrence could cure machine ills and clear up financial and personal difficulties that had refused to yield to lesser medicine. For sinners who had tried on their own and failed, the mother church had a particular indulgence. "They are like babes in the wood," Cooksey wrote of the builders of the Purdue cyclotron, who had never seen the inside of one before beginning their labor, "and need a visit."
These visits promoted more than camaraderie and nostalgia. Cyclotrons multiplied in part because Lawrence wished them to. "It would please me greatly," he wrote in answer to Columbia's request for his "fatherly blessing" on their project, "if various laboratories would build cyclotrons." It was the Laboratory's policy, as Cooksey put it, to be "most interested in giving what information it can to help those who are starting in this fairly new field." A large portion of the very large correspondence of Lawrence and of Cooksey during the late 1930s is devoted to what the builder of the Yale cyclotron called "the usual generosity," that is, answering questions from perplexed or would-be cyclotroneers; providing blueprints of Berkeley machines and accessories to any laboratory seriously engaged in planning or building cyclotrons; lending or giving old parts. And they could do more. To assist Bohr and Joliot, Lawrence helped to obtain fellowships from the Rockefeller Foundation for Laslett and Paxton; to help the Japanese, he and Cooksey arranged for the delivery and machining of the steel and copper for the second Tokyo cyclotron. The cyclotroneers in partibus shared this ethic. Ignorant
of or indifferent to the patent situation, they exchanged information freely among themselves and continued to contribute to the advance of the art at Berkeley by trying new techniques on their own machines. Several major improvements came forward in this manner, in particular the capillary source introduced by Livingston and tested at Princeton and Rochester and the quarter-wave transmission line pioneered at Illinois and Columbia.
Although cyclotroneers worked in many environments much different from Berkeley's, they often enough were supported by the same means as Lawrence had dispensed. The federal government assisted elsewhere as it had in Berkeley. The navy gave generators and the 500-kilowatt Poulsen arc for which Cornell and Columbia competed; had the navy had more to distribute, the union of the arcs with experts from Berkeley would no doubt have made the country (to use the elegant phrase of a Westinghouse engineer) "lousy with cyclotrons." The quantity of gifts in kind to accelerator laboratories from the navy and the War Department got a high reading on the Nahmias detector: "[They] continually distribute many pieces of equipment: generators, pumping systems, copper, electromagnets, oil, rectifiers, etc., to everyone who knows how to wangle them." Columbia's successful wangle, to meet the navy's requirement that the Poulsen magnet serve vocational education, is worthy of attention: "The magnet will be used by graduate students in connection with their training in research . . . ; such training is strictly vocational as opposed to general cultural education."
Opportunities for vocational training spread with the help of the foundations. After the National Research Council had played a brief and inexpensive part in Cornell and Illinois, the Research
Corporation, with its eye to the patent situation, made a series of grants of $2,000 or $3,000 to start or improve cyclotrons. Among its beneficiaries were Chicago, Columbia, Cornell, Purdue, Rochester, and Stanford. By 1939, however, the Corporation had sensed that there was little for it in the "mad, but orderly scramble" to multiply cyclotrons within the same energy range and it concentrated its diminishing investments in accelerators on a bet on Berkeley. The enlargement of opportunity and costs attendant on radioisotope manufacture brought substantial contributions from the Rockefeller Foundation to cyclotron building in Copenhagen and Paris, and lesser amounts to Rochester, Saint Louis, and Stanford. Like the Research Corporation, however, the Foundation apparently decided not to support new machines within established energy regions. In 1939 it had the courage to turn down Harvard's request for "a substantial annual grant for a period of years," much to the surprise of president Conant, who had sunk money in a medical cyclotron expecting that it would bring in foundation money easily.
MIT tried the National Advisory Cancer Council, without issue, and then did very well at the Markle Foundation, with $30,000. Michigan tapped its Rackham funds, an endowment given by an organizer of the Ford Motor Company, for some $25,000 a year, which made Michigan the richest American cyclotron laboratory outside Berkeley. But the brotherhood did not live by bread alone; and something in the air at Michigan drove away the two
Berkeley cyclotroneers, Thornton and Richardson, who started their extramural careers there. To finish our parallels, had Lawrence had his way, the National Advisory Cancer Council would have given all the American cyclotron laboratories in existence in 1938 save Bartol, which he thought sufficiently supported by Dupont, enough to realize their potential for radioisotope production or medical therapy. No more than the Research Corporation or the Rockefeller Foundation, however, did NACC wish to dribble away its resources to a large number of equivalent laboratories.
It is not practicable to learn how much of the cyclotroneers' salaries was paid by the various contributors to cyclotron laboratories, or, indeed, the magnitude of the contributions. But we can make a rough estimate of the capital investment, inclusive of labor, in American cyclotrons operating outside Berkeley by 1940. These machines cost or represented about $250,000 exclusive of the value of the buildings that housed them. With these structures they came to about $400,000. The cost of their operation from the time of their commissioning through 1940 would perhaps raise the total expenditure on them to something like the amount spent on cyclotrons at Berkeley during the 1930s.