The Lawrence Hall of Science
The public science center of the University of California, Berkeley.
10:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m.
Closed December 24 & 25
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Explore the scientific discoveries and innovations of The Lawrence's namesake, Ernest Orlando Lawrence. His invention of the first cyclotron earned him the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1939, the first UC Berkeley scientist to win the prize in any discipline.
A cyclotron is a machine designed to spin atoms at very high speeds, then smash them together to study the results. Lawrence’s first cyclotron model, seen in the exhibit, was made of little more than wire and sealing wax, which probably cost about $25. Discover the history and science behind this groundbreaking invention.
Lawrence’s invention, which stared out as a sketch on a scrap of paper, changed out scientists studied atomic and subatomic particles. The cyclotron led to the discovery of many new radioactive elements, including Lawrencium, Berkelium, and Californium. For his pioneering work, Lawrence was awarded the 1939 Nobel Prize in Physics, a replica of which is on display in the exhibit.
Smashing atoms is not the only way to generate subatomic particles. Cosmic rays originating from stars both near and far are constantly whizzing across the universe. Check out the Cloud Chamber to see trails left by actual cosmic particles as they travel through the vapor in the chamber!
As UC Berkeley’s first Nobel Laureate, Ernest Lawrence is a renowned figure in the Berkeley community. The Lawrence Hall of Science was established in 1968 as a living memorial to his many scientific achievements. Lawrence’s work not only as a pioneering physicist but also as an educator inspired the purpose of The Lawrence to engage young people in science learning and discovery. In addition to the small models in this exhibit, you can see the 65-ton electromagnet that powered Lawrence’s cyclotron on the circle in front of the science center.
Age 3+: $20
Kids under 2: FREE
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