Bevatron Shutdown In Nostalgic Ceremony

February 26, 1993

By Mary Bodvarsson

Nearly 100 current and former LBL employees gathered at the Bevatron on Saturday, Feb. 21, 1993 to watch Ed Lofgren turn off the beam for the last time.

Lofgren, who was in charge of the venerable machine from its completion in 1954 until his retirement from the post in 1979, pushed a button that someone long ago labeled "atom smasher offer." In so doing, he brought to an end a four-decade era of accomplishments that are unrivaled in the fields of high-energy and heavy-ion physics. Early discoveries at the Bevatron--or Bevalac, as it was called after its linkage with the SuperHILAC linear accelerator in the 1970s--resulted in four Nobel prizes.

Bevalac Had 40-Year Record of Historic Discoveries
It was first announced that the particle accelerator had reached the end of its career in October 1992, following several reprieves as new areas of research were entered. All told, the accelerator made major contributions in four distinct areas of research: high-energy particle physics, nuclear heavy-ion physics, medical research and therapy, and space-related studies of radiation damage and heavy particles in space.

On hand for the final "turn-off," which was videotaped for inclusion in an LBL-produced video about the Bevalac, were many of the people instrumental in the building and start-up of the accelerator. Among these were William Brobeck, chief designer of the Bevatron, Bruce Cork, Walt Hartsough, Warren Chupp, and Bob Richter.

Owen Chamberlain, who received a Nobel prize for his discovery of the anti-proton at the Bevatron, joined the group, as did project collaborator Clyde Wiegand. Rick Gough, acting AFRD director; William Barletta, new AFRD director as of March 1; Nuclear Science Division director James Symons; Klaus Berkner, associate laboratory director for operations; and Herb Steiner, chair of the UC Berkeley Physics Department, were all present for the festivities. Ben Feinberg, Bevalac operations program head, and Fred Lothrop, former scheduling coordinator, were among the many other present and former Bevalac staff and experimenters on hand.

One touching moment came just after Lofgren shut the machine down. "Taps" wafted out over the PA system.

Shortly after the beam was turned off, power to the magnets was turned off by Warren Faust, head of the motor-generator crew, and retired engineer Harold Vogel. While the motor generators audibly wound down, the group was in telephone contact with former motor-generator engineer Bob Frias.

Feinberg noted that the shutdown came 39 years to the week after beam was first circulated in the Bevatron. The last experiment to be run was led by a collaboration from Japan, headed by Isao Tanihata. The experiment was to study the properties beams of radioactive isotopes created at the Bevatron.

The shutdown of the Bevatron was stage two in the Bevalac shutdown. The SuperHILAC was turned off for the last time on Dec. 23, 1992; since Jan. 4, only the Bevatron has been operational.

The next stage, Feinberg says, is to "stand down and secure" the facility, which will leave it in a safe condition. This phase will extend through September 1994, and will involve about 30 people. Following this stage will be a period which he describes as "an extended transition process to undertake the planning and characterization necessary to come up with a cost effective and efficient plan to decommission and decontaminate the facility."

Search | Home | Questions