Big Science

Big Science[Download] ➹ Big Science Author Michael A. Hiltzik – From a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist and Los Angeles Times contributor the untold story of how science went bigbuilt the bombs that helped win World War II and became dependent on government and i From a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist and Los Angeles Times contributor the untold story of how science went bigbuilt the bombs that helped win World War II and became dependent on government and industry and the forgotten genius who started it all Ernest LawrenceSince the s 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 timeThe 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 ScienceThis 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. Note I received a free copy of this book through Goodreads First ReadsPrimarily a biography of Ernest Lawrence; a Nobel laureate physicist who invented the cyclotron and was a key figure in America's development of atomic bombs during World War 2 While Hiltzik does provide some information on the science behind Lawrence's work his primary focus is on Lawrence's skills as an organizer and fund raiser His thesis is that before Lawrence scientific research consisted mostly of a lone scientist perhaps supported by an assistant or two working on a modest budget in a modest laboratory with small scale euipment Lawrence's career placed him at the forefront of a shift in that model where he founded the first research lab the Rad Lab in Berkeley with a massive staff supported by massive government checks using large euipment costing millions of dollarsIt's an interesting story; most accounts I've seen of the development of the atomic bomb focus on the research facility in Los Alamos New Mexico so this account presents an interesting alternate viewpoint I have to say that I found it impossible to be entirely sympathetic towards Lawrence After the war while many of his physicist colleagues became strong advocates for reining in the advance of nuclear weaponry Lawrence was a gung ho advocate of building bigger and bigger bombs not to mention smaller bombs for use as submarine missile warheads He was also entirely too willing to play along with the red baiting of the time period and fired some of his subordinates at his lab for leftist sympathiesI can't really recommend this book to readers who don't have a particular interest in the history of science particularly the history of scientific institutions It's a bit dry and even I who am interested in the subject matter found the book tedious at times most especially when Hiltzik goes into the details of how Lawrence went about cajoling various organizations and eccentric millionaires for funding But if you do have an interest in the subject it's worth your while While it certainly took me long enough to get through about three months this book was a wonderful read that I'd highly recommend to anyone with overlapping interests in history politics militarism science the Cold War investigative journalism andor great biography No science background is necessary but it helps to have some historical understanding of what led to mechanization of warfare in the 20th C It's particularly good to keep Oppenheimer in mind throughout your reading as you'll find yourself mulling over unintended conseuences regret and post objective fears in the scientific community Strong recommend I graduated from UC Berkeley and the names of Lawrence and Sproul are on buildings on the campus When I was in school my professors had been trained or had worked with Ernest O Lawrence 1901 1958 and Robert Oppenheimer 1904 1967 I found the book fascinating as it provided in depth information about people and places I saw daily and knew only general information I was most interested in learning about the early years of one of my former professors which was mentioned in the book Glenn T SeaborgHiltzik follows Lawrence’s career from a graduate student at Yale to winning the Nobel Prize in 1939 through his work in World War II on the Manhattan Project Hiltzik builds a case showing how Lawrence’s works created the sprawling system of Government funded research laboratories we now know as the military industrial complex In 1961 the chemical element Lawrencium was named in his honorThe author goes into detail about how Lawrence conceived and built his first Cyclotron or circular particle accelerator that used enormous magnets to hurl fragments of matter at one another at superfast speed Hiltzik tells of his building the Lawrence Liver Radiation Laboratory and his development of the hydrogen bomb I knew about Lawrence’s work on the uranium isotope separation for the Manhattan Project but I was surprised to learn about his work on developing the radar tube and the Lawrence Tube used to create color televisionHiltzik discusses how other fields became interest in Lawrence’s work such as the University’s Medical School for use to treat cancer Hiltzik shows how the government’s canceling of the super conducting super collider in 1993 allowed Europe to take the lead in physics researchThe book is well written and meticulously researched I found it an absolutely fascinating read I read this as an audiobook downloaded from Audible Bob Saouer did an excellent job narrating the book While titled as a discussion of big science this book focuses most of its attention on the development of nuclear weapons This is fine but other authors Rhodes et al cover this topic sufficiently The coverage of recent developments in big science revolve around the failures of funding stemming from an inability to articulate a clear value proposition from the advocates Readers conversant with the Manhattan Project can probably skip this one When I was a teenager I was fascinated by nuclear physics and read everything I could find on the subject My dream was to work in the Cavendish laboratory like my fellow New Zealand countryman Ernest Rutherford Then I met 6th form school physics and hated it End of dream I have read very little about nuclear physics over the last 40 years and was very keen to read this book and rekindle my interest The book is primarily a biography of Ernest Lawrence Nobel Prize laureate and inventor of the cyclotron I could not remember having ever heard of him before but surely I must have as he was linked to just about everything to do with nuclear physics from the 1930s onwards including the Manhattan project and the creation of the atomic bombs The book begins with the contrast between the old style physics exemplified by the Cavendish laboratory where each physicist worked on his own projects with the minimum of euipment and very little money to the new physics of Lawrence in Berkley with “teamwork that combined the disparate knowledge and skills of physicists chemists biologists physicians and engineers into a new paradigm of science” and where the euipment started to become an end in itself Little Science versus Big Science elegance and frugality versus monumental machines and seemingly limitless fundingThe book is very well written and flows as an absorbing story about a remarkable man as well as being a history of nuclear physics and the way that the modern world of Big Science came into being You do not need a science background to understand what is happening although a little knowledge about the origins of nuclear physics and some of the scientists involved would certainly enhance your reading Lawrence wasn’t just a world class scientist he was an adept fundraiser an inspiring leader of people and involved in political decisions at the highest level – even though he claimed to have no interest in politics and actively dissuaded his co workers from such Lawrence worked with and was admired by many of the most prominent physicists in the world He believed passionately in sharing his knowledge and encouraged research across the globe He invented tools and procedures that changed science forever but he also had his faults As soon as he got funding for the development of one project he was already thinking about and campaigning for the next bigger costly project This continual change of focus and the reluctance of any of his devoted co workers to challenge him meant that many ground breaking discoveries that should have been made in the “Rad Lab” went unnoticed and relied on other systematic physicists for detection Lawrence did not deal well with those who disagreed with him As time passed he became increasingly right wing and intolerant to the dismay of his former friends and colleagues His never ending pursuit of financial support caused him to adopt the opinions of his sponsors “The government’s immense financial sway over research funding gave its interests—including its political interests—immense weight Thus did the economics of Big Science create a double edged sword Under the circumstances scientists’ fealty to military and political orthodoxy trumped their honest scientific judgment” It was not just science that changed in the 20th century but also the way in which scientists approached their work With the atomic bomb came a new moral dimension to scientific invention The interaction between Lawrence and Oppenheimer shows this very clearlyAugust 6th – next week as I write this– is the 70th anniversary of the bomb being dropped on Hiroshima This book goes into a lot of detail about how the bomb came about and its military political and human conseuences which I found really fascinating We all know what happened – this story tells you how And it was nowhere near as straightforward as I thought I would have loved to have read this book when I was younger but it is no less engaging reading it today I am really pleased to have learnt about Ernest Lawrence and my interest in nuclear physics is definitely rekindled I can recommend this book wholeheartedly to anyone interested in history science andor the human conditionI received this copy from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest revie Big ScienceErnest Lawrence and the Invention That Launched the Military Industrial Complexby Michael HiltzikInformative interesting sometimes provocative sometimes mildly annoyingThere are two stories here Ernest Lawrence and big science The stories overlap For most of the book I thought it should have been titled Ernest Toward the end it veered off track back to it's real name Annoying but nothing to stop a real readerOne century ago one man and many others created a revolution in how physics and science was done Big science means big money big staffing big government and a great scientistmanagersalesmanvisionary or two Before that science was done in a lab on a bench top That morphed into Los Alamos Lawrence Liver Labs and a lot That activity helped us win WWII But it led almost immediately to an arms race nuclear weapons and an uncertain futureWas that a good thing? Biography of Ernest Lawrence and the Rad Lab at Berkeley and the origins of big science Lawrence was a physicist and experimentalist who pioneered work in early cyclotrons the forerunner of our modern particle accelerators like the LHC He was and excellent scientist but also had the social and managerial skills to run huge projects and developed early contacts with government and business to forge what would be the model of big science which would be a way of doing things for the rest of the 20th and our part of the 21st century Definitely an interesting character and major figure in 20th century science Throughout the twentieth century the city of Berkeley has been a breeding ground of invention Even before World War I there was August Vollmer who served as police chief from 1909 to 1931 and was widely regarded for transforming police work from thuggery to a modern profession Over the years since then the city has been host to an outsized number of notable people who have made world class contributions to science industry journalism the arts the military and innumerable other fields But none achieved impact as great as Ernest O Lawrence the Nobel Prize winning physicist who invented the cyclotron — the centerpiece of his scientific work and the building block of Berkeley physics — and played a critical albeit uestionable role in developing the atomic and thermonuclear bombsToday Lawrence is best remembered locally because three institutions bear his name Lawrence Berkeley Lab Lawrence Liver Lab and the Lawrence Hall of Science As a long time resident of the city I wondered idly from time to time why any individual would be memorialized so extravagantly Now having read Michael Hiltzik’s eye opening biography of Lawrence Big Science I fully understandLawrence was much much than a brilliant physicist who won the first Nobel Prize in the history of the University of California Berkeley He was a science administrator whose invention of the cyclotron and towering managerial talents shaped virtually single handedly what today we know as Big Science — the collaborative work of often enormous teams of scientists freuently across national borders to pave new paths in understanding our lives and the universe we live in Working in close collaboration with Robert Gordon Sproul President of the University of California from 1930 to 1958 Lawrence helped build UC Berkeley into a world renowned center of learning through his drive charisma towering scientific reputation and prodigious fundraising skills Funding for Lawrence’s laboratory often exceeded the combined total of the funds received for all other research at UC Berkeley It was also Lawrence who proposed his colleague and then friend J Robert Oppenheimer to manage what became known as Los Alamos where the bombs that devastated Hiroshima and Nagasaki were designed and built He also drove the development of the facility in Tennessee that produced the U 235 fueling the Hiroshima bomb And than anyone else we have Ernest Lawrence Edward Teller and Lewis Strauss to thank for the H bomb known in their day as the “super”Hiltzik concludes that Lawrence “presided over a transformation of American science as profound as any change inspired purely by scientific discovery the launch of peacetime government patronage” However before the Manhattan Project began to pour millions into Berkeley Lawrence succeeded in fundraising in a broader context assembling consortia of donors from the foundation world and academia as well as government It’s difficult not to think of Lawrence as one of the greatest fundraisers everIn a real sense the stature of UC Berkeley today can be traced back to the collaboration of Ernest Lawrence and Gordon Sproul More than eight decades after the two men began their careers on campus “Berkeley” is routinely ranked as the world’s greatest public university and is in contention with a handful of others — notably Harvard Oxford and Stanford — for top honors among all institutions of higher learningFor all his accomplishments Lawrence is remembered today as an euivocal figure with a decidedly dark side Though his seminal role in creating the atomic bomb might be excused as a response to the threat of Adolf Hitler and the military and scientific juggernaut he commanded Lawrence’s ferocious no holds barred advocacy of the H bomb is difficult to understand in the twenty first century So are his aggressive enforcement of the University of California loyalty oath and his partnership with Atomic Energy Commission chairman Lewis Strauss in vilifying Robert Oppenheimer Though Lawrence began his career at UC Berkeley as a New Deal Democrat though doggedly apolitical his views in his later years veered sharply rightward apparently influenced by his mentors Alfred Loomis a wealthy businessman who played a pivotal role in physics research and UC Regent John Francis Neylan both virulent anti Communists Viewed in the light of later events when we came to understand how dramatically the Communist threat was exaggerated I find it difficult to understand Lawrence’s shift so far to the Right Sadly he was hardly alone in falling prey to knee jerk anti Communism He was a man of his times after all Ernest Lawrence may be less known than Robert Oppenheimer but both had eually important roles in the creation of the Atomic Bomb In fact after reading this book one sees how if not for Lawrence’s pre war visions the Manhattan Project may not have succeededLawrence was a brilliant and driven scientist who established the Rad Lab at UC Berkley in the 1930s He pioneered a device called the cyclotron a spiral shaped particle accelerator which set him on his path to fame With that fame came the growth of his beloved lab and he trained many of the atomic scientists who would serve on the Manhattan Project including Oppenheimer Those he trained may have been his students or those he brought to Berkley as instructors or professors to further his projects Lawrence was also the first to realize the sciences and engineering could work together to further goals as he was not only unafraid to have non physicists on his team but he encouraged it Besides the many physicists in the Rad Lab he recruited chemists engineers and medical doctors to help with the experiments Besides manpower to further his projects Lawrence constantly sought funding from multiple sources to support the costly projects He also became the first scientific manager as he had many of his students and staff working on his ideas and projects in addition to their ownWhen Europe went to war in the United States there were fears that the Germans had the atomic research background to create the then theoretical atomic bomb This led to the first plans for conducting this critical research in the States long before it was involved in the war Lawrence not only advocated for the research he lent his Rad Lab to the cause and helped design the facilities at Oak Ridge where the uranium was produced It was Lawrence who suggested Oppenheimer to be in charge at Los Alamos He worked tirelessly to further the atomic research Also detailed in this section were the scientists’ thoughts on the use of the bomb on Japan both before and after the bombs were droppedIn the final few chapters the development of atomic research after World War II were discussed with a focus on Lawrence’s projects This included detailing the many commissions on the related research; the effect of the Red Scare on atomic research; post war research including the hydrogen bomb and nuclear missiles; his new Liver atomic research facility and its competition with Los Alamos; and post war research funding Lawrence was often overworked in these years so than beforeWhile the main focus of this book was on Lawrence and the Big Science he created the many other key players were also detailed to varying extents Included were Oppenheimer John Lawrence Ernest’s brother and a medical doctor on the team; he pioneers radiation therapy for cancer treatment Luis Alvarez Milton Stanley Livingston General Leslie Groves Robert Serber Don Cooksey Edwin McMillian Vannevar Bush Alfred Loomis Edward Teller and many While most were scientist on his team others were scientists elsewhere he worked with on national committees after the war Also there was a great focus on the science involved While it was explained well in the text it would be helpful for readers to have a basic familiarity with physics to fully comprehend it Overall I learned a great deal from Big Science I never realized the full extent of Lawrence’s role before now Nor did I realize just how much the pre war research affected the Manhattan Project or the era that followed Too many other titles and documentaries make readersviewers think it all began with World War III was offered the opportunity to review this title by FSB Associates This book is somewhat an answer to the uestion of how we went from the age of a few people working on small setups in elementary physics to the behemoth collaborations that make up the modern frontier such as the ATLAS and CMS experiments at CERN But it's also a look at scientific personalities in the 40's and 50's how a willingness to appease government counted for than consistent cautious criticism How far ambition and convenient timing could go to fund the most destructive and preposterous efforts in the name of peace Because whilst this book spends a great deal of time and effort on the advent of Big Science its also a total character assassination of Ernest O LawrenceWhat struck me most when reading Big Science was how much Lawrence was willing to give up in the name of getting ahead He sacrificed good science and staff in his early running of the Rad Lab he removed himself from family life during the Manhatten Project he deserted any hint of morality in his post war actions in both the push for the H bomb and the trial by character of Oppenheimer and ultimately he sacrificed his health and life in his drive to stay on top Despite that much of his early spirit in collaborative working is still held strong in the particle physics groups I've worked in at Berkeley and Cern In both places a good idea or suggestion can come from an individual of any rank or experience results and data lie in the public domain for anyone to play with and all members are expected to have knowledge of the bigger picture and not be isolated in their own research However the less pleasant aspects of his management style that staff should be on hand 24 hours a day that graduate students are expendable have thankfully gone out of fashion Hiltzik is a master storyteller as very little of this book dragged uite a feat given that huge swathes of it are dedicated to various committees on scientific policy making It's a fun and entertaining read that doesn't shy from delivering in depth explanations on the actual experiments being performed at the time whilst also putting them in the context needed for a non expert to appreciate their significance There's also a good 40 pages of chapter by chapter references to the material Hiltzik dredged up to put this book together which is always appreciated This is an excellent read for a modern physicist trying to come to terms with how the way science was done has changed in the last 50 years but its also a cautionary tale of the role of ambition in the field and how it can be easily exploited by a trigger happy government A lesson which feels relevant today than it ever did Reuired reading for the modern PhD student A

Big Science PDF ¿ Hardcover
  • Hardcover
  • 528 pages
  • Big Science
  • Michael A. Hiltzik
  • English
  • 09 September 2016
  • 9781451675757