The Lab is launching a social media campaign to honor the legacy of Ernest Orlando Lawrence, the founder of Berkeley Lab. By sharing this story widely, the Lab hopes to inspire others with Lawrence’s spirit of scientific exploration and innovation!

The campaign is the perfect way to celebrate Berkeley Lab’s Founder’s Day, which is August 26. Founder’s Day marks the date in 1931 when Lawrence received permission to open up a lab to pursue his studies of particle acceleration.

How you can participate:

  1. Print and cut out your own Pocket Ernie. We recommend using heavy cardstock.
  2. Take creative photos of the cutout in fun locations – at work, famous landmarks, museums, nature sites, etc. Get inspired!
  3. Share photos on your personal social media accounts
  4. In your captions, share inspiring anecdotes about Lawrence and fun science facts. Some sample ideas:
      • How his inventions like the cyclotron revolutionized nuclear physics
      • His role in the Manhattan Project and WW2 nuclear research
      • Founding the Berkeley Radiation Lab and other facilities
      • Mentoring future generations of scientists
      • Curiosity about poetry, music, literature
  5. Use the campaign hashtag #ErnestInspires and tag @BerkeleyLab on threads, Instagram, Facebook, Linkedin, or Twitter
  6. Tag and connect with relevant organizations or individuals related to Lawrence’s history

Fun Facts about Ernest Lawrence for your posts:

  • Ernest Orlando Lawrence was born on August 8, 1901, in Canton, South Dakota, USA.
  • He was the eldest of five children in his family.
  • As a child, Lawrence was an avid reader and showed an early interest in science and engineering.
  • Lawrence went to the University of South Dakota, receiving his B.A. in Chemistry in 1922.
  • He received his Ph.D. in physics from Yale University in 1925 at the age of 24.
  • In 1928, Lawrence joined the University of California, Berkeley, as a faculty member, where he spent most of his career.
  • Lawrence’s invention of the cyclotron in 1931 revolutionized the study of nuclear physics, enabling the acceleration of particles to high energies.
  • The first cyclotron built by Lawrence was a mere 4 inches in diameter, but he later developed much larger ones, some exceeding 200 inches.
  • The invention of the cyclotron earned him the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1939, making him the youngest Nobel laureate in physics at the age of 38.
  • During World War II, Lawrence worked on the Manhattan Project, contributing to the development of the atomic bomb.
  • Lawrence was the founder of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (then called the Berkeley Radiation Laboratory) in 1931.
  • He also played a key role in the establishment of the Radiation Laboratory at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) during WWII.
  • Lawrence’s work on isotope separation led to the creation of the Calutron, a device used for uranium enrichment.
  • He was a charismatic and inspiring mentor to many students and young researchers who later became prominent scientists themselves.
  • Lawrence was known for his love of classical music and often played the piano to relax and unwind.
  • He was an excellent tennis player and enjoyed playing the sport during his leisure time.
  • In addition to his scientific work, Lawrence had a strong interest in poetry and literature.
  • Lawrence was involved in the design and construction of the first medical particle accelerator, which was used for cancer treatment.
  • He received the Presidential Medal of Merit from President Harry S. Truman in 1946.
  • Lawrence was the first scientist to receive a contract from the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission.
  • In 1940, he became the youngest chairman of the National Academy of Sciences.
  • Lawrence was instrumental in the creation of the United States Atomic Energy Commission, serving as a commissioner from 1947 to 1958.

Ernest Lawrence cutout