This Week on CENtral Science: XPRIZE Science, Nanotech Safety, and more
Sep20

This Week on CENtral Science: XPRIZE Science, Nanotech Safety, and more

Tweet of the Week: OH: OMG, she LOVES biology. When she gets drunk, that's all she talks about.— LeighKrietschBoerner (@LeighJKBoerner) September 20, 2013 To the network: Cleantech Chemistry: Cool Planet Wraps Up $60 Million Funding Round Fine Line: ChemOutsourcing: Day Two and ChemOutsourcing: Day One Newscripts: XPRIZE Competition Poses Ocean Acidity Challenge and Amusing News Aliquots and From Unknown Bacteria To Biotechnology Breakthrough The Safety Zone: Nanotechnology: Small science can come with big safety risks The Watch Glass: Tiny Solder and Gas Masks for Three Year Olds and Women in Cleveland's Chemistry Labs during WWII and The Orion Nebula and Detector Dogs for Forensic...

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There & Back Again: A Cyclotron’s Tale
Mar15

There & Back Again: A Cyclotron’s Tale

This post was written by Andrea Widener, an associate editor for C&EN's government and policy group. When Ernest O. Lawrence lent a cyclotron to the London Science Museum in 1938, he thought it would be back in eight months. But it took 75 years for the 11-inch cyclotron, one of the first built by the future Nobel Prize winner, to return to the hills of Berkeley, Calif., where it was originally created. The cyclotron survived a war, a bureaucratic tussle, and a security challenge before it was finally returned to Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL), the research institution founded by the cyclotron’s inventor. When it arrived last month, the 11-inch cyclotron was an instant celebrity, drawing crowds as though Lawrence himself had walked in for a photo op. “They were coming down the hallway in a stream,” says Pamela Patterson, who serves as an unofficial historian and manager of the lab’s website. “Everyone was there. The director had his iPhone up taking pictures. It was cute.” At the time Lawrence loaned the cyclotron to the science museum, he was still a young, ambitious researcher trying to convince others that the device was a major breakthrough. An invitation to display it in such a prestigious spot was likely an important step, Patterson explains. But when the cyclotron was supposed to be returned in 1939, Lawrence received a letter from the museum saying officials had moved the cyclotron to a rural district for safe keeping because they feared London would be bombed during World War II. Lawrence thanked the museum’s director for protecting the cyclotron. “We all hope the war will not last long and that soon the world will return to sanity again,” he replied. Instead World War II went on for seven more years, Patterson explains. “The cyclotron was just forgotten,” she says.But not everyone had forgotten. Patterson started her quest for the device’s return 18 years ago, when the president’s office at the University of California, which operates LBNL for the Department of Energy (DOE), asked her to take up the challenge. At first, the London Science Museum wanted to keep the cyclotron, in part because officials there couldn’t decide to whom they should return it, DOE or the university. Apparently, no one could find it on an inventory list.Patterson thought she was home-free, though, once the museum finally agreed to return the prized device in 2010. Museum officials packed the cyclotron up in its original shipping box, complete with PanAm and TransWorld Airline stickers, reflecting the last time it had been shipped. Soon after, she got the call that the cyclotron was a security threat and that...

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