Lawrence Livermore Laboratory

Lawrence Livermore Laboratory

Location: Livermore, California

The Official Story: Ernest Lawrence, a professor at the University of California at Berkeley and a member of the Los Alamos project, founded Lawrence Livermore in 1952 in response to Russian advances in bomb making. It became Los Alamos’ main competitor and one of the world’s “premier” nuclear science research centers. In 1936, he had become director of Berkeley’s radiation lab, later known as Lawrence Berkeley. Three years later, Lawrence won the Nobel Prize in Physics for his invention of the cyclotron.

The Terrible Truth: Beginning in the late 1930’s, Lawrence Berkeley conducted more than 90 human radiation experiments, many without the consent of the subjects. The research including experiments upon pregnant women, children, mental patients, and prison inmates. The experiments were conducted at local hospitals, San Quentin prison, the psychiatric Langley Porter Clinic in San Francisco, and Laguna Honda Home, described as “a hospital for destitute patients.”

While You’re There: Tours of Lawrence Livermore are held Tuesdays and Thursdays at 9 a.m.

Quote: “He creates and destroys.” – caption from 1939 Time magazine cover featuring Ernest Lawrence.