Big Science: Ernest Lawrence and the Invention that Launched the Military-Industrial Complex

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Simon and Schuster, Jul 7, 2015 - Biography & Autobiography - 512 pages
From a Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist and Los Angeles Times contributor, the untold story of how science went “big,” built the bombs that helped win World War II, and became dependent on government and industry—and the forgotten genius who started it all, Ernest Lawrence.

Since the 1930s, the scale of scientific endeavors has grown exponentially. Machines have become larger, ambitions bolder. The first particle accelerator cost less than one hundred dollars and could be held in its creator’s palm, while its descendant, the Large Hadron Collider, cost ten billion dollars and is seventeen miles in circumference. Scientists have invented nuclear weapons, put a man on the moon, and examined nature at the subatomic scale—all through Big Science, the industrial-scale research paid for by governments and corporations that have driven the great scientific projects of our time.

The birth of Big Science can be traced to Berkeley, California, nearly nine decades ago, when a resourceful young scientist with a talent for physics and an even greater talent for promotion pondered his new invention and declared, “I’m going to be famous!” Ernest Orlando Lawrence’s cyclotron would revolutionize nuclear physics, but that was only the beginning of its impact. It would change our understanding of the basic building blocks of nature. It would help win World War II. Its influence would be felt in academia and international politics. It was the beginning of Big Science.

This is the incredible story of how one invention changed the world and of the man principally responsible for it all. Michael Hiltzik tells the riveting full story here for the first time.
 

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User Review  - GeoffHabiger - www.librarything.com

Michael Hiltzik's Big Science is a hugely interesting and fascinating look into the world of physics, and physics' interaction with government and industry, during the first half of the 20th Century ... Read full review

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User Review  - BookWallah - LibraryThing

Fascinating biography of the man who figured out how to raise money for "Big Science" (large, expensive, multi-disciplinary programs) from philanthropists, industry, AND the government. Essential he ... Read full review

Contents

Creation and Destruction
1
THE MACHINE
13
A Heroic Time
15
South Dakota Boy
29
Im Going to Be Famous
45
Shims and Sealing Wax
67
Oppie
89
THE LABORATORY
103
The Racetrack
237
Oak Ridge
259
The Road to Trinity
279
The Postwar Bonanza
303
Oaths and Loyalties
325
The Shadow of the Super
339
Livermore
353
The Oppenheimer Affair
375

The Deuton Affair
105
The Cyclotron Republic
123
John Lawrences Mice
139
Laureate
165
Mr Loomis
191
THE BOMBS
211
Ernest Are You Ready?
213
The Clean Bomb
399
Element 103
415
The Twilight of Big Science?
431
Acknowledgments
445
Index
489
Copyright

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About the author (2015)

Michael Hiltzik is a Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist and author who has covered business, technology, and public policy for the Los Angeles Times for three decades. He currently serves as the Times’s business columnist and hosts its business blog, The Economy Hub. His books include Big Science, The New Deal, Colossus, Dealers of Lightning, and The Plot Against Social Security. Mr. Hiltzik received the 1999 Pulitzer Prize for articles exposing corruption in the entertainment industry. He lives in Southern California with his wife and two children. Follow him on Twitter @HiltzikM.

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