The Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory consists of ten divisions devoted to the study of as many sciences. The staff, which now numbers 3000, and their machines, from typewriter to Bevatron, have produced not only discoveries enlightening in science, ingenious in contrivance, and useful in practice, but also a vast quantity of records. On paper and on film, on perforated cards and magnetic tape, in archives, office files, personal papers, agency reports, and government storage centers, these records occupy about fifty thousand cubic feet.
|UC's Office for History of Science and Technology is housed, appropriately enough, in Stephens Hall, a charming survivor of the older and more gracious school of academic architecture at Berkeley. Above, project director John Heilbron (at right), discusses the LBL history project with his collaborators Bob Seidel (left) and Bruce Wheaton.|
All the manuscripts left by Galileo and his disciples pertaining to the institutions of Tuscan science in the 17th century comprise a few hundred volumes. This paltry literature, which in size does not exceed the run of log books for the Bevatron, has nourished the studies and disputes of historians for over two centuries. In contrast, we have the opportunities and disadvantages of endless material, no predecessors, and a distance in time from the object of our study insufficient (according to the rules of our trade) for historical perspective. We mention these points not to excuse errors, but to enlist help in a common cause. Like those whose labors and achievements we record, we seek a small signal against a vast background of noise.
The historical record of the last twenty years of the Laboratory is especially profuse and diverse. New opportunities arising from shifts in perceived national needs and a leveling off of support for high-energy physics then brought a multiplication and diversification of research programs. For thematic unity we concentrate here on the first stage of the Laboratory's development. We plan to bring coverage further forward in the much larger and more comprehensive history that we are preparing.
The present account runs on two levels. One is a general narrative of the main events and forces in the several periods into which we have divided the Laboratory's first thirty years. The other is an episode or two from each period that we take to typify it. In choosing these episodes we considered the leading part played by accelerators throughout most of the Laboratory's history. We shall have opportunity for broader coverage in the full history, and welcome suggestions about its scope and approach.
It is a pleasure to thank Judith Goldhaber and Ralph Dennis, both of the LBL Newsmagazine, for suggestions for illustrations and for the handsome book design; Jacqueline Craig of the Office for History of Science and Technology for formatting and producing the text; Edward J. Lofgren, chairman of the Laboratory's Fiftieth Anniversary Committee, for his generous support; Vicki Davis, LBL archivist, for her hospitality and cooperation; and many members of the Laboratory staff for documents, hints, comments, and criticisms.
J. L. Heilbron
Robert W. Seidel
Bruce R. Wheaton