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9781421425320
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v2.1 Reference
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August 1, 2018
9781421425320
9781421425313
English
472
195036
43
9.25 Inches (US)
6.13 Inches (US)
$79.95 USD, £59.00 GBP
v2.1 Reference

The American Lab

An Insider’s History of the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

Nobel laureate Ernest O. Lawrence and renowned physicist Edward Teller founded the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in 1952. A new ideas incubator, the Lab was at the heart of nuclear testing and the development of supercomputers, lasers, and other major technological innovations of the second half of the twentieth century. Many of its leaders became prominent figures in the technical and defense establishments, and by the end of the 1960s, Livermore was the peer of Los Alamos National Lab, a relationship that continues today.

In The American Lab, former Livermore director C. Bruce Tarter offers unparalleled access to the inner workings of the Lab. Touching on Cold War nuclear science and the technological shift that occurred after the fall of the Berlin Wall, he traces the Lab’s evolution from its founding under University of California management through its transfer to private oversight. Along the way, he highlights important episodes in that journey, from the invention of Polaris, the first submarine-launched ballistic missile, to the Lab’s controversial role in the Star Wars program. He also describes Livermore’s significant responsibilities in stockpile stewardship, the program that ensures the safety and reliability of the US nuclear arsenal.

The book portrays the lab’s extensive work on thermonuclear fusion, a potential source of unlimited energy; describes the development of the world’s largest laser fusion installation, the National Ignition Facility; and examines a number of smaller projects, such as the Lab’s participation in founding the Human Genome Project. Finally, it traces the relationship of the Lab to its federal sponsor, the Department of Energy, as it evolved from partnership to compliance with orders, a shift that affected all of the national laboratories. Drawing on oral histories, internal laboratory documents, and the author’s personal experiences from more than fifty years as a Lab employee, The American Lab is an illuminating history of the Lab and its revolutionary work.

About the Author

C. Bruce Tarter is a theoretical physicist who began work at Lawrence Livermore Laboratory as a researcher in 1967. Presently director emeritus, he served as the Lab’s director from 1994 to 2002.

Endorsements

"There are few books by authors who have had front row seats to the history of Cold War nuclear weapons laboratories. Tarter, who had firsthand contact with many of the key players, gives readers the feeling of actually being a member of the Livermore weapons design teams. He draws interesting comparisons with Los Alamos and describes the trials and tribulations of the fledgling program from the perspective of the scientists and engineers who were there."

- John C. Hopkins, retired nuclear physicist, Los Alamos National Laboratory

"This is a fascinating history of an iconic laboratory that created new directions for US nuclear weapons during the height of the Cold War. Tarter presents an insider’s view of a diverse array of scientific endeavors and the captivating stories of the events and the people behind these efforts."

- John C. Browne, retired physicist, Los Alamos National Laboratory

"While chronicling the history, culture, and people that created Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, The American Lab provides important insights into the external events and underlying principles that have made the Lab one of the foremost science and technology institutions in the world. A great read!"

- George H. Miller, Director Emeritus, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

"The American Lab is a personal, clear-eyed, and readable account of the Lawrence Livermore story—a mix of science, patriotism, politics, engineering, and ego. Tarter makes an important contribution to understanding of the role of ‘big science’ in American life, and sets the stage for understanding the role of Lawrence Livermore and other national laboratories in shaping the future."

- Victor H. Reis, former Assistant Secretary of Energy for Defense Programs

"Tarter’s book is a fascinating look at the role of the University of California and the groundbreaking physicist E. O. Lawrence in the history of the US nuclear weapons program. Tarter gives the reader insight into some of the most important decisions and choices made at the Lab."

- Ellen O. Tauscher, fomer Member of Congress (D-CA) and former Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Affairs

"Nuclear weapons were a defining characteristic of the Cold War era and after, and the Livermore Lab is one of the most important but least understood of the places that made them. C. Bruce Tarter, a former Livermore director, provides the Lab’s first detailed history with insight and candor."

- Peter J. Westwick, Director, Aerospace History Project, author of The National Labs: Science in an American System, 1947–1974

Review

"The American Lab is highly recommended reading not just for science collections; but for anyone who would better understand the intersection of and connections between political, scientific, educational, and military communities."

- Donovan's Literary Services
Johns Hopkins University Press
Johns Hopkins Nuclear History and Contemporary Affairs
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