#99-24
Released 3/19/99

Contact: Kara Villamil (516) 344-5658 or Mona S. Rowe (516) 344-5056

 

New Book Explores Brookhaven National Laboratory's History,Traces Roots of Current Issues Surrounding Lab

UPTON, NY - The fascinating story of Brookhaven National Laboratory's rise to scientific fame, its prizewinning discoveries and the seeds of controversies that have surrounded the Laboratory in recent years is told in a new book by science historian Robert Crease.

Titled "Making Physics: A Biography of Brookhaven National Laboratory, 1946 to 1972," it is the first book-length history of the Laboratory. Crease signed copies for Lab employees and retirees at an event held today at Brookhaven's Berkner Hall.

The new book, published by the University of Chicago Press, traces the history of Brookhaven's founding as the first national laboratory dedicated to peaceful research and its rise to prominence as one of the nation's premier scientific institutions. It is the product of eight years of research by Crease, a philosophy professor at the State University of New York at Stony Brook and the Laboratory's historian.

Crease focuses on the personalities and events that shaped Brookhaven, and the stories behind the construction of its large research machines and the experiments that were done with them. He chronicles the race to build the most powerful particle accelerators in the world at the time - the Cosmotron and the Alternating Gradient Synchrotron - and the construction and use of the first nuclear reactor built for peacetime research, the Brookhaven Graphite Research Reactor.

Crease also discusses how the actions and decisions of those who founded Brookhaven set the stage for many of the problems affecting the Laboratory today, including its interaction with nearby communities, and the lasting environmental implications of early Laboratory operations.

Among the facilities whose past Crease explores is the High Flux Beam Reactor, built in the 1960s as BNL's third research reactor. It was this reactor, Crease says, that would later become a touchstone for controversies surrounding the Lab.

Crease also explores BNL's relations with the government agencies that have provided the majority of funding for the Lab, starting with the Manhattan District in the early days after World War II and the Atomic Energy Commission, and continuing to the current U.S. Department of Energy. He places BNL's history in the context of national science policy and public attitudes about science and technology.

Through his unprecedented access to records and many interviews with key scientists and staff, Crease collected numerous anecdotes, documents and images to flesh out the chronology of BNL's first quarter century. He catalogs the many important research initiatives that the Lab pursued in its first 25 years, including nuclear medicine, materials science and the discoveries of many new subatomic particles and phenomena.

Noted physicist and author Robert Adair of Yale University, in an early review, wrote, "Crease has illuminated the revolution in the relations between our society and science that has utterly transformed both."

And, writes Abraham Pais of Rockefeller University, "This vivid account of America's first high energy physics laboratory will be precious to all who lived through those years and, one may hope, to later generations who would like to know how it all begins."

Scientist Harald Fritzsch of the University of Munich noted, "Crease's book describes a great American dream which turned into reality - the fascinating story of a laboratory which contributed more than any other to the development of physics in the second half of the twentieth century."

The U.S. Department of Energy's Brookhaven National Laboratory creates and operates major facilities available to university, industrial and government personnel for basic and applied research in the physical, biomedical and environmental sciences, and in selected energy technologies. The Laboratory is operated by Brookhaven Science Associates, a not-for -profit research management company, under contract with the U.S. Department of Energy.


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