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NObel TRadition A H i s t O r y o f U C B e r k e l e y ’ s l A U r eat e s

hat do , the Calvin ent, cosmologist , who says that nitroglycerine-related death of his brother and W Cycle, game theory, laser beams, and the title2 of Nobel laureate is “kind of like Miss the explosion of one of his factories, he sought the Big Bang have in common? They were all America, but it doesn’t go away at the end of to create a more stable explosive. Combining Ninvented, discovered, or confirmed by UC the year.” With the academic prestige (and two dangerously volatile nitroglycerine with dia- Berkeley faculty who were awarded the Nobel gigabytes of congratulatory email) comes a tomaceous earth, he created dynamite, and its Prize. UC Berkeley has an impressive history of sense of social responsibility. popularity in military munitions made him Nobel laureates: Since the prize originated in wealthy. 1901, 20 UC Berkeley faculty and 24 alumni An Explosive Beginning Nobel’s obituary was accidentally published have been awarded the . Here is the The Nobel Prize is named for Alfred Nobel, eight years before his death. “The Merchant of story of Berkeley’s Nobel tradition, from the a Swedish scientist, inventor, and man of Death is Dead,” proclaimed one headline. Loath Prize’s surprising origin (it owes its existence industry who conducted research on the ex- to leave behind the legacy of destruction that to dynamite), to Berkeley’s most recent recipi- plosive properties of nitroglycerine. After the this obituary described, he stipulated in his

1939 1946 1949 1951 1959 1960 1961 1964

William Giauque, (1949) Invented a magnetic refrigeration system, with Donald Glaser, which he was able to (1960) ernest o. lawrence, decrease the temperature Invented the bubble nearly to Physics (1939) chamber, which allows (-237.15ºC). Invented the , which uses scientists to study the magnetic fields to accelerate charged movement of atomic particles, inciting nuclear reactions. charles townes, 93 94 particles. Physics (1964) Np Pu Invented the maser, which amplifies waves into an Edwin McMillan & Glenn intense beam and was a Seaborg, chemistry (1951) precursor to the laser. McMillan discovered , and Seaborg discovered plutonium. chemistry (1961) Explained how plants use John Northrop & Wendell Stanley, Owen Chamberlain carbon in ; hence, the . Chemistry (1946) & Emilio Segrè, Northrop was the first person to isolate chemistry (1959) a pure enzyme and Stanley was the first Discovered the to isolate a virus. anti-.

Images © The Nobel Foundation, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, and UC Regents 20 will that his enormous fortune be awarded to UC Berkeley’s Nobel Laureates another UC Berkeley invention with sub- people whose work and discoveries benefited In 1939, the Royal Swedish Academy of sequent modifications that resulted in multiple mankind. Nobel wanted prizes to be created in Sciences declared Berkeley professor Ernest Nobel Prizes is the laser. Charles Townes won five categories: physics, chemistry, physiology O. Lawrence the winner of the Nobel Prize the prize in Physics in 1964 for developing or medicine, literature, and peace. A econom- in Physics. Lawrence, a nuclear , in- the maser (microwave amplification by stimu- ics prize in memoriam of Nobel was added in vented the cyclotron, a device that accelerates lated emission of radiation), a precursor to 1968. charged particles so they travel at great speeds. the laser. Two additional Nobel prizes went to Nobel died in 1896, but the first prizes Atoms of a target element are bombarded with UC Berkeley faculty who continued Townes’s were not awarded until 1901. Nobel’s family the high-speed particles. Upon impact, the par- research with lasers. Yuan T. Lee won the Prize disagreed with his wishes, and the establish- ticles and target element recombine and decay, in Chemistry in 1986 for developing a way to ment of the prize was delayed by years of briefly producing a new element. Lawrence’s send streams of particles, like beams of light, Nobel Tradition conflicts. It also took some time to decide how invention led to the discovery of many new towards other streams of particles, which al- the winners would be selected. elements, as well as hundreds of radioactive lowed scientists to look at chemical reactions It is a long process from nomination to isotopes. in a new way. Later, Stephen Chu used laser medal. First, a potential laureate beams to cool gasses to very low FEATURE must be nominated in a prize “I have the responsibility to use the temperatures. In a 2005 lecture by category, such as physics. Qualified several Nobel laureates, “Berkeley’s nominators for physics include title as a positive force so that science Nobel Tradition,” Chu described members of the Royal Swedish how these beams of supercooled Academy of Sciences, members of and education continue to prosper.” gases could hold an atom steady in the Nobel Committee for Physics, space, “the way a tractor beam might previous Nobel laureates in physics, physics Like Lawrence and the cyclotron, the Nobel hold on to a starship.” Scientists have used the professors at universities in Sweden, Denmark, Prize often is awarded to the inventor of a atom trap to study the structure of atoms, and Finland, and Norway, as well as at six other machine or technique that leads to new dis- Chu won the for this international universities, and other scientists coveries. Fort instance, in 1952, Cal physicist work in 1997. selected by the Academy—a total of about Donald Glaser invented the bubble chamber, In all, UC Berkeley faculty have won eight 3,000 people. Each year, 250–350 which allowed scientists to track the move- prizes in physics, seven in chemistry, four in are nominated. The aforementioned Nobel ment of charged particles. This invention was a economics, and one in literature. Berkeley’s most Committee for Physics (five members of the major contribution to the field of physics, and recent Nobel recipient is George Smoot, who Academy) then consults with outside experts Glaser received the Nobel Prize in 1960. Later, shared the 2006 Prize in Physics with John C. to narrow down the list. Finally, the Royal Luis Alvarez, another UC Berkeley physicist, Mather of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. Swedish Academy of Sciences votes on the built upon Glaser’s bubble chamber design. Smoot and Mather were in charge of building winner. Ever wonder if you’ve been nominated He filled the chamber with instead and launching NASA’s Cosmic Background for a Nobel Prize? Sorry, you’ll be a professor of ether, which meant that the movement of Explorer satellite (COBE). They used data from emeritus before you find out: the names of atoms could be tracked more precisely. Alvarez this satellite to produce images of the remnant nominees are kept secret for 50 years. received the Nobel Prize in 1968. light of the Big Bang, which showed that it has

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Gerard Debreu, Daniel McFadden, Economics (1983) Economics (2000) Created the theo- Incorporated human retical framework behavior into economic that describes John Harsanyi, models of decision- the law of making. Luis Alvarez, PHYSICS (1968) Economics (1994) Improved upon Glaser’s supply and Used game theory to explain demand. bubble chamber design by human behavior in economic George Smoot, Physics (2006) using hydrogen instead of and political conflicts. His work with the Cosmic ether inside of the chamber. Background Explorer satellite allowed him to see images of Czeslaw Milosz, cosmic background radiation, literature (1980) which is thought to be a So far, the only Berkeley remnant of the Big Bang. faculty member to win the Nobel Prize in Literature. George Akerlof, Milosz was an author Yuan T. Lee, Stephen Chu, Economics (2001) and poet, Chemistry (1986) Physics (1997) His theories explained how, and wrote Developed when buyers and sellers don’t critiques of molecular beam Used lasers to make supercooled gases that could hold on to an atom, have access to the same infor- communism. devices that allow scientists mation, markets do not behave to view chemical reactions. according to Chu, “the way a tractor beam might hold on to a starship.” according to traditional economic theories.

21 hot and cold regions—ripples in space-time And others try to use their clout as a Nobel about the origins of the universe is broadly im- left over from the universe’s violent origin. Prize winner to do some good. “This title has portant. It is a “cultural heritage for mankind, weight,” says Smoot. “I have the responsibility “ says Smoot. “Every society has a story of how A Nobel Incubator to use that as a positive force so science contin- the universe began. This can be an intellectu- UC Berkeley has all of the ingredients for ues to prosper, and education prospers.” ally powerful, verified creation story. No longer Nobel-worthy discoveries: well-established a myth.” Understanding the mechanics of the programs in physics, chemistry, and econom- Free Parking and Social universe, Smoot hopes, will ultimately make ics, faculty members who are leaders in their Responsibility people take an active role in understanding the fields, and top-notch facilities and equipment. Here at UC Berkeley, the receipt of a Nobel technical issues in society. “The more people But, says Smoot, success in the Nobel arena Prize comes with a complimentary parking believe that the world is rational, the more they Nobel Tradition requires something more. spot on campus—a perk if there ever was one. will feel personally empowered and feel a sense smoot makes an analogy to Silicon Valley’s But the great honor of the Nobel Prize comes of responsibility.” entrepreneurs and venture capitalists: an in- with a corresponding sense of social responsi- novative culture is key. Early on, UC Berkeley bility. In January 2006, six of Berkeley’s seven What Do You Do For An Encore? had large block grants, and “a young person living Nobel laureates gathered for a panel In 2006, the Nobel Prize’s monetary reward FEATURE with a great idea was given seed money,” says discussion about sustainable energy. Steven was 10 million Swedish krona, or roughly $1.4 Smoot, and was encouraged to pursue these Chu, George Smoot, Charles Townes, Daniel million, shared equally by multiple recipients in novel ideas in research and in proposals for ad- McFadden, Yuan T. Lee, and Donald Glaser a single category. So far, none of UC Berkeley’s ditional funding. Older faculty mentored new discussed global warming and the dire need to Nobel laureates have taken the prize money faculty, making Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory reduce carbon emissions via energy conserva- and retired in luxury in Bermuda—everyone and other departments on campus into “incu- tion, use of solar power, biofuel technology, has continued to conduct research. Donald bators,” says Smoot. “You have to know how to and increased fuel efficiency. Smoot brought Glaser even changed fields, from physics to mentor [faculty members]. And you have to be up the controversial topic of nuclear power, a molecular . In the panel discussion a growing university, hiring new people, so you subject he is well qualified to talk about—in “Berkeley’s Nobel Tradition,” all of the laure- don’t forget how to mentor them.” the 1970s, he was on the nuclear reactor safety ates spoke of their passion for research. Charles committee. “Somebody’s got to say it,” Smoot Townes is now in his 90s and continues to do There Is No Manual On How To Be explained in his interview with the BSR. “Most research in astrophysics. “I just keep doing A Nobel Laureate energy use isn’t in the transportation sector,” science and enjoying it,” he says. “There is no George Smoot realized he had won a Nobel so the potential of biofuels is limited. “Nuclear reason to stop.” So what’s the key for students Prize when he was awakened by a phone call power is one of the few solutions that make who want a Nobel Prize in the future? “Do the from Sweden at 2:45 am on October 3, 2006. sense.” Unfortunately, nuclear power’s danger- things that you find most interesting,” Townes He had almost no time to prepare for a press ous reputation “shut the industry down so it suggests. “Do what you like to do best.” conference later that morning. “There is no never matured,” said Smoot. He would like to manual on how to be a Nobel laureate,” says use his time in the limelight to re-introduce the Smoot. However, he notes, “I got to talk to public to the idea of nuclear power. Education Jennifer Skene is a graduate student in integrative Steve Chu,” who won a Nobel Prize in 1997, about this and other scientific concepts is a pri- biology. “for 15 or 20 minutes before the press confer- ority for Smoot. “The whole population needs ence.” Chu advised him to focus on thanking to be technical to be a democracy—to make Want to know more? supporters and funding sources on his first day technical judgments as opposed to emotional “Berkeley’s Nobel Tradition” lecture videos are of Nobel stardom, rather than explaining the judgments.” available online at: science behind it all. However, Smoot wishes In line with his priorities, Smoot is using www.uctv.tv/search-details. he’d had handouts describing his research to his Nobel Prize money to start a center for asp?showID=11197 give to the press. cosmological physics here at UC Berkeley. The after his prize was announced, Smoot center will focus on understanding the origins Laureate panel discussion on sustainable received 400–500 invitations to be on commit- of the universe in detail by taking extremely energy: tees, to go to functions, and to sign petitions, precise measurements of its properties. Says www.berkeley.edu/news/media/ but you can’t attend all the parties and still Smoot, “once you get accuracy [of measure- releases/2007/01/22_nobelists.shtml teach introductory physics. Weeding through ments] to one percent, you start seeing the the invitations was difficult, says Smoot. But deviations [from what you expect]. You can “you need to accept all the Swedish ones.” test the macroscopic idea,” the theory “of how During the Nobel festivities in Stockholm in the universe began, evolved, and continues to December, Smoot and the other laureates, “The evolve.” The small deviations from theory may Class of 2006,” had a roundtable discussion. be due to microscopic events in the universe Says Smoot, “We asked ourselves, ‘what does which we don’t even know about yet. it mean to win a Nobel Prize?’” Some laure- The center for cosmology will incorporate a ates try not to let it change their lives. Others high school teachers’ academy and will have an take advantage of the tremendous networking extensive and easily comprehensible web site opportunity in order to further their careers. to share cosmological discoveries. This research

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