A reel of black & white film shot nearly 60 years ago has surfaced at Berkeley Lab, depicting the discovery of Mendelevium — or Element 101 — as reenacted by some of the legendary scientists who did the actual work at that time. Since the 1940s, Berkeley Lab scientists were locked in a race to synthesize new elements, and more often than not, they came out winners. Sixteen elements, most of them in the actinide series at the bottom of the periodic table, were discovered and synthesized by its researchers.
Retired Berkeley Lab physicist Claude Lyneis found the reel in a box of dusty and deteriorating films slated for disposal. Using digital editing skills he acquired to make videos of his son’s lacrosse team, Lyneis has produced and narrated an excerpt of this nearly-lost footage. It is an entertaining and informative look at the pioneering physics performed at UC Berkeley and Berkeley Lab’s hill site, and a glimpse at the work of scientists Albert Ghiorso, Glenn T. Seaborg, Gregory Robert Choppin, Bernard G. Harvey, and team leader Stanley G. Thompson. Watch the video below.