The summer blockbuster “Oppenheimer” has inspired a groundswell of curiosity about the scientists from around the world who managed to split the atom and then, with wartime urgency, built the first atom bomb.

Among them was Ernest O. Lawrence, who Berkeley Lab employees know as the Lab’s namesake and founder. But few people today comprehend the magnitude of Lawrence’s contributions to science during the three decades before, during, and after World War II.

On Wednesday, Aug. 16, at 1 p.m., Pulitzer Prize-winning author and journalist Michael Hiltzik will present his perspectives on Lawrence in a special event hosted by Berkeley Lab. Author of the 2015 book “Big Science: Ernest Lawrence and the Invention that Launched the Military-Industrial Complex,” Hiltzik is among the world’s experts on the subject.

“Lawrence was a man who changed science in ways that still resonate today and will continue to do so well into the future,” said Hiltzik. ”During his lifetime, he was the most famous native born scientist in America. He created the most efficient and powerful atom smasher of his time. He was instrumental in developing the atomic bomb and the hydrogen bomb. But his overarching legacy was that he created this new paradigm of science we call ‘big science’ that still prevails today.”

During the talk, Hiltzik will provide an overview of Lawrence and his legacy and engage in an on-stage conversation with Berkeley Lab Director Mike Witherell. He’ll also take questions from the live and online audiences.

All are welcome to participate in the live online event at Seating is limited for the in-person event in the Lab auditorium; please contact your division office to request an in-person invitation.