Lawrence Livermore Laboratory

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"The single event that triggered the establishment of Lawrence Livermore was detonation of the first Russian atomic bomb in 1949. Some American scientists were alarmed that the Soviets could advance quickly to the next step, the hydrogen bomb, with potential disaster for the West. Ernest Lawrence was a key participant in the World War II atomic bomb project at Los Alamos, a Nobel Laureate, and founder of the University of California Radiation Laboratory at Berkeley. Edward Teller was a brilliant physicist at the Los Alamos Nuclear Weapons Laboratory.

They met in October of 1949 to discuss the Russian threat. It was essential, Teller came to believe in the course of the next several years, to start a second nuclear weapons laboratory- to provide competition, to diversify expertise, to handle the large volume of work that future fast-breaking discoveries would bring. Lawrence supported Teller's proposal for a second weapons lab, and he wanted it established at Livermore.

Moreover, he wanted Teller to oversee setting up the new lab. Teller presented his case to Atomic Energy Commission Chairman Gordon Dean on April 4, 1951 in Washington, D.C. In July 1952, formal Atomic Energy Commission action created the Livermore branch of the UC Radiation Laboratory. In September, this second weapons laboratory opened its doors at the site of a former naval air station in the sleepy cow town of Livermore, California.

Among the group of young Berkeley scientists who were working with Lawrence was 32-year-old Herbert F. York. Barely three years out of graduate school, York was singled out by Lawrence to head the new laboratory. York set out to develop the Lab' program and created four main elements: Project Sherwood (the Magnetic Fusion Program), diagnostic weapon experiments (both for Los Alamos and Livermore), the design of thermonuclear weapons, and a basic physics program. The first two facilities were a building to house the latest electronic computer, a Univac, and a technology building with a large central bay for lifting heavy equipment.

The focus of the Lab in the early days was on national needs and technical opportunities. Experts in chemistry, physics, and engineering had a common understanding of the Laboratory's mission, and developed new technologies on their oown. But along with this went the team effort to understand a problem and to work it out together. Over the following four decades, this new facility was destined to be a competitor of Los Alamos in the development of U.S. nuclear deterrents. Livermore was also to become one of the world's premier scientific centers, using its knowledge of nuclear science and engineering to break new ground in mangnetic and laser fusion energy, non-nuclear energy, biomedicine, and environmental science" (

From the description of Nuclear winter study papers, 1972-1993 (inclusive), 1980-1989 (bulk). (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 265476431

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
referencedIn Schreiber, R. E. (Raemer Edgar). Oral history interview with Raemer Edgar Schreiber, 1976 February 13. American Institute of Physics, Niels Bohr Library
referencedIn Reynolds, Wallace B. Oral history interview with Wallace B. Reynolds, 1975 December 12. American Institute of Physics, Niels Bohr Library
referencedIn Stickley, Carlisle Martin, 1933-. Oral history interview with Carlisle Martin Stickley, 1984 September 22. American Institute of Physics, Niels Bohr Library
referencedIn York, Herbert F. (Herbert Frank). Herbert F. York interview : transcript, 1978 August 20. UC Berkeley Libraries
referencedIn Kelly, Michael A., 1936-. Oral history interview with Michael A. Kelly 2002 March 19 Chemical Heritage Foundation, Othmer Library of Chemical History
referencedIn American Institute of Physics. Center for History of Physics. Study of Multi-Institutional Collaborations. Phase II: Space Science and Geophysics. Greenland Ice Sheet Project (GISP) (Geophysics and Oceanography): Oral history interviews, 1992-1994. American Institute of Physics
referencedIn Lawrence, Ernest Orlando, 1901-1958. Ernest O. Lawrence papers, circa 1920-1968. UC Berkeley Libraries
referencedIn Lofgren, Edward Joseph, 1914-. Dr. Edward Joseph Lofgren oral history [sound recording] / interviews conducted by Tim Troy, 6th, 13th and 20th May 2006. UC Berkeley Libraries
referencedIn Louis H. (Louis Harry) Roddis Papers, 1823-1990 David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library
referencedIn Boyer, Keith, 1915-. Oral history interview with Keith Boyer, 1984 November 5. American Institute of Physics, Niels Bohr Library
referencedIn Hayward, John T., 1908-. Papers, 1926-1997. Naval War College, Henry E. Eccles Library
referencedIn Gofman, John W. John W. Gofman papers, [ca. 1930-1970]. UC Berkeley Libraries
referencedIn Saunders, B. G. (Bernard G.), 1911-1984. Bernard G. Saunders papers, [ca. 1940-1970]. UC Berkeley Libraries
referencedIn Mann, Lloyd Godfrey, 1922-. Response to 1988 History of Nuclear Physics Survey, 1988-1989. American Institute of Physics, Niels Bohr Library
referencedIn Bradbury, Norris Edwin, 1909-1997. Oral history interview with Norris Edwin Bradbury, 1976 February 11. American Institute of Physics, Niels Bohr Library
referencedIn Reynolds, Wallace B., 1904-. Wallace B. Reynolds : laboratory management at Berkeley and Livermore : oral history transcript of a tape recorded interview conducted by Arthur Norberg on December 12, 1975 and February 19, 1976. History of Science and Technology Program, the Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley, California, 1982. UC Berkeley Libraries
referencedIn Bromberg, Joan Lisa. Materials collected for writing the book, "Fusion: science, politics, and the invention of a new energy source", 1922-1982, bulk 1958-1978. American Institute of Physics, Niels Bohr Library
creatorOf Buckholtz, Thomas J. Thomas J. Buckholtz, Raymond deSaussure, and George Michael computer manual collection, 1950-1990 (bulk 1960-1982). Computer History Museum
creatorOf Lawrence Livermore Laboratory. Nuclear winter study papers, 1972-1993 (inclusive), 1980-1989 (bulk). HCL Technical Services, Harvard College Library
referencedIn York, Herbert F. (Herbert Frank). Oral history interview with Herbert F. York, 1975 September 9 and 13 May 1976. American Institute of Physics, Niels Bohr Library
referencedIn Barschall, H. H. (Henry Herman), 1915. Reminiscences. American Institute of Physics, Niels Bohr Library
referencedIn Schwartz, Charles Leon, 1931-. Oral history interview with Charles Leon Schwartz, 1987 May 15. American Institute of Physics, Niels Bohr Library
referencedIn Singleton, Mary F. Papers, 1958-2005. Iowa State University, Parks Library
Role Title Holding Repository
Place Name Admin Code Country

Corporate Body

Active 1972

Active 1993




Ark ID: w6fb8xk4

SNAC ID: 35833959