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Ernest O. Lawrence
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Scientist
    (August 8, 1901-August 27, 1958)
    Born in Canton, South Dakota
    Physicist
    Invented the cyclotron particle accelerator (1934)
    Won the Nobel Prize in Physics (1939)
    Namesake for the Lawrence Livermore and Lawrence Berkeley Labs
    Namesake for chemical element 103, lawrencium
    As a child, he set himself on fire playing with matches.
    As an undergrad, he flunked courses in electricity and magnetism, which would be the basis for the cyclotron.
    He was a constant self-publicist who would greet reports of breakthroughs in the lab with, 'Wonderful. Now how do we take it to the press.'
    The organizers of the 1939 San Francisco World's Fair expressed interest in borrowing one of his cyclotrons for a display of atom smashing until he mentioned that loose neutrons could break out and sterilize the spectators.
    He was incredibly prolific, publishing an average of 3-1/2 scientific papers per year over the period 1924-40.
    His first cyclotron used $25 worth of material and could fit in the palm of a man's hand but was already able to accelerate particles to 1% of the speed of light.
    He refused to accept royalties on the patent for the cyclotron and helped other labs set up their own.
    He played an important role in the Manhattan Project to develop the atomic bomb.
    As one of his hobbies, he invented a type of color TV tube that remained in use for decades.
    He was an early proponent of using multidisciplinary teams of scientists and engineers for research, with Nobel Laureate Luis Alvarez saying, 'Lawrence will always be remembered as the inventor of the cyclotron, but more importantly, he should be remembered as the inventor of the modern way of doing science.'

Credit: C. Fishel


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