Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.
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Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, scientific research centers run by the Univ. of California, located in Berkeley, Calif., and Livermore, Calif., respectively. They are named for their founder, physicist Ernest O. Lawrence, who organized the Berkeley laboratory in the early 1930s and the Livermore laboratory in 1952. They are administered by the Univ. of California with funds provided by the U.S. Department of Energy. Formerly these two laboratories were run as a single research center known as the Lawrence Radiation Laboratory at Berkeley and Livermore.

At Lawrence Berkeley an international staff carries out fundamental research and graduate study in physics, nuclear chemistry, biology and medicine (more recently including genetic mapping), chemical biodynamics, and inorganic materials. Since most of the work is centered around the study of atomic nuclei, the greatest portion of research involves the use of four major particle accelerators. In 1971 research was also formally instituted there in environmental problems.

At Lawrence Livermore applied research is carried out on nuclear weaponry, peaceful uses of nuclear explosives, the effects of artificially produced radiation on living organisms, and controlled thermonuclear reactions. The laboratory maintains a test site for nuclear explosives near Las Vegas, Nev. Basic research, partly in support of the applied work, is conducted in chemistry, physics, biology, and computer sciences. Since the end of the cold war the research focus has increasingly diversified, with a shift toward environmental (global warming, climate simulation), energy, computer, laser, biomedical (genetic mapping), and chaos theory issues.

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