Ernest Lawrence marker

Ernest Lawrence marker in the columbarium

Ernest Lawrence was born on August 8, 1901, and died of complications from ulcerative colitis on August 27, 1958. He is interred along with his wife, Mary “Molly” Lawrence, and his parents, Carl and Gunda Lawrence at the Oakland Crematorium and Columbarium.

Ernest Lawrence was the winner of the 1939 Nobel Prize in Physics for his invention of the cyclotron. He also founded the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.

Ernest Lawrence and family at the Nobel Prize ceremony
Lawrence and family at the UC Berkeley special ceremony for his receipt of the Nobel Prize. (Left to right): Mary “Molly” Lawrence (his wife), Ernest Lawrence, Gunda Lawrence (his mother), John Lawrence (his brother), and Carl Lawrence (his father). Photo courtesy of Berkeley Lab.

Building upon the cyclotron, Lawrence’s calutrons — hybrids of the cyclotron and a mass spectrometer — were created for the the Manhattan Project for electromagnetic separation of uranium isotopes. The Y-12 plant at Oak Ridge, containing these massive calutrons “racetracks” using over 14,700 tons of silver, enriched the uranium-235 and shipped the first few hundred grams to Los Alamos laboratory in March 1944.

Model 2302 Super Sniffer

On the corner of Ruby Hill Avenue and Monroe Street is the Eureka Sentinel Museum, housed in the old Eureka Sentinel newspaper building in Nevada.

Nuclear-Chicago’s Model 2302 Super Sniffer

An unassuming display case of artifacts from the Sentinel offices contains the 1954 Nuclear-Chicago Model 2302 Super Sniffer.

To capitalize on the uranium fever spreading across the West, Nuclear-Chicago created this low cost, general purpose instrument for the detection of x-rays, gammas, and high energy betas, specifically designed for uranium prospecting. Using standard flashlight batteries, it could be used continuously for up to 2 hours. The unit came with earphones, batteries, radioactive check source, a U.S. government prospecting book and instructions — all for $49.50.

Nuclear-Chicago was founded by Jim Schoke, and later joined by John Kuranz and Thomas Mitchell, in 1946. All three were members of the Army’s Special Engineer Detachment of the Corps of Engineers and worked on the Manhattan Project at the Metallurgical Laboratory (MetLab) at the University of Chicago working for the instrument group.

Enjoy the 1955 Warner Bros. short film, “Uranium Fever.”

Last voyage of USS Indianapolis

USS Indianapolis (CA-35) off Mare Island, July 10, 1945

The USS Indianapolis left Hunters Point Naval Shipyard on July 16, 1945, setting a speed record of 74-1/2 hours from San Francisco to Pearl Harbor, arriving on July 19. She was on a top-secret mission carrying the enriched uranium from Oak Ridge and other assembly parts for the “Little Boy” atomic bomb.

Indianapolis continued on to Tinian, arriving on July 26, and delivered the atomic bomb components. Continuing on to Guam for crew changes, she left on July 28 to begin sailing toward Leyte to join Task Force 95.

USS Indianapolis intended route from Guam to Philippines showing location of sinking.

On July 30, 1945, Indianapolis was truck by two torpedoes from a Japanese submarine, causing massive damage. Twelve minutes later, she sunk, taking 300 crew down with her and setting adrift over 900 crewmen.

On August 2, the survivors were spotted by Navy airplanes on a routine patrol flight. Only 316 of the remaining men survived.

USS Indianapolis memorial in Indianapolis, IN

You can visit the memorial for the USS Indianapolis located at the north end of the Canal Walk between Senate Avenue and Walnut Street. The gray and black granite memorial is outdoors and open to the public.