The Eight Periods of My Life

My life can be logically divided into eight stages:

I. Childhood in Ishpeming, Michigan, 1912-1922 (10.5 years).

II. Youth in Southern California, 1922-1934 (12 years). The period concludes with my graduation from UCLA in 1934.

III. Early Days at the University of California in Berkeley, 1934-1942 (8 years). This includes the time of my graduate work at the University of California at Berkeley (1934-1937), service as the personal research assistant of Gilbert N. Lewis (1937-1939) and as instructor (1939-1941) and assistant professor (1941). Highlights of my research during this period include my participation in the discovery of plutonium and its fissionable isotope (mass number 239) and a number of isotopes very useful in the diagnosis and treatment of disease (such as 131I, 60Co and 99mTc).

IV. Wartime Metallurgical Laboratory, University of Chicago, April 19, 1942-May 19, 1946 (4 years). During this period I was responsible for the development of the chemical processes used in the production of plutonium and participated in the discovery of the elements americium (atomic number 95) and curium (atomic number 96).

V. University of California at Berkeley, May 20, 1946-June 30, 1958 (12 years). During this time I served as Professor of Chemistry and Director of the Division of Nuclear Chemistry of the Radiation Laboratory. I participated in the discovery of berkelium (atomic number 97), californium (98), einsteinium (99), fermium (100), mendelevium (101), and nobelium (102). Other responsibilities included service during the second half of this period as the faculty athletic representative for the Berkeley campus to the Pacific Coast Intercollegiate Athletic Conference.

VI. Chancellor, University of California at Berkeley, covering the period July 1, 1958 -January 31, 1961 (2.5 years). Unusually successful in athletics, Berkeley teams won the NCAA basketball championship in 1959; the football team played in the Rose Bowl on January 1, 1959; the rowing team won the National Intercollegiate Regatta Association championship in 1960; the baseball team won the California Intercollegiate Baseball Association championship in 1960; and the water polo teams won the AAWU water polo championships in 1959 and 1960.

Buildings completed during my tenure were Kroeber Hall, the Lowie Museum of Anthropology, Campbell Hall, the first eight residence halls and the Strawberry Canyon recreational complex; and plans were made for building the Student Union complex, married student housing, Latimer Hall, Barrows Hall, Tolman Hall, the University Art Museum, the biochemistry building and the virus laboratory. The College of Environmental Design was established; the Lawrence Hall of Science and the Space Sciences Laboratory had their origins as well as the Earl Warren Legal Center and the Laboratory of Chemical Biodynamics; also established were a variety of new research institutes, centers and facilities in diverse fields.

VII. Chairman, U.S. Atomic Energy Commission, covering period February 1, 1961-November 6, 1971 (10.5 years). Highlights the Limited Test Ban Treaty (LTBT), the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), the Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty (SALT) and ABM Treaty, the Cuban Missile Crisis, the program of international cooperation (including my visits to 60 countries), the program for support of research, the Los Alamos Meson Facility and the 200 Bev Accelerator, the National Transplutonium Production Program, the civilian nuclear power reactor program, the Raw Materials Program, the Gas Centrifuge Program, the Cutback in Production of Fissionable Materials, the Regulatory Program, the Radioisotopes Program, the nuclear power in space program, the nuclear weapons testing program, the Plowshare Program, the Controlled Thermonuclear Research Program (CTR), the Nuclear Education and Training Program, and the Technical Information and Exhibits Program.

VIII . The University of California, Berkeley, November 7, 1971-. My colleagues and I discovered element 106 in 1974 which was given the name seaborgium (Sg) in 1994, and confirmed in August 1997.

It is interesting to try to rank these periods in terms of which I have found most exciting. Certainly the period of highest excitement would be Period IV, the time of my wartime work at the Metallurgical Laboratory. Next would come Period III, the time of discovery of plutonium, followed by Period V, the time of discovery of numerous other transuranium elements. Next would come Period VII, the time of my chairmanship of the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission, and then Period VI, the time of my chancellorship at Berkeley. The other Periods I, II, and VIII would be difficult to rate on such a scale.