Charles C. Lauritsen: A Reasonable Man in an Unreasonable World
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Charles C. Lauritsen (1891-1968) was a leading American experimental nuclear physicist and government advisor. He emigrated from Denmark to the United States in 1916 with his wife and baby. In 1926 he talked his way into graduate study at Caltech. Within four years he completed a physics Ph.D. degree, built the world’s highest voltage X-ray tube, and became a Caltech faculty member and director of the Kellogg Radiation Laboratory - founded to treat cancers with his X-ray tube. Converting one of his tubes into a particle accelerator, he became a nuclear physicist. During World War II he established and ran a large program for developing rocket munitions. After the war he advised government agencies on weapons development and research funding. He opposed the U.S. decision to develop the H-bomb. I discuss here his achievements, character, leadership, and the difficulties of science advising - especially evident in Project Vista.
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