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Big Science

Ernest Lawrence
and the Invention That
Launched the Military-
Industrial Complex

From a Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist and Los Angeles Times columnist, the untold story of how science went “big,” built the bombs that helped win World War II, and became dependent on government and industry—and the forgotten genius who started it all, Ernest Lawrence. Since the 1930s, the scale of scientific endeavors has grown exponentially. Machines have become larger, ambitions bolder. Read more

“I was soon gripped...this is an astonishing story: US physicist Ernest Lawrence is at its core, but its scope is broad and full of context and characters.”
--Jon Butterworth writing in Nature - Read the review

Read Michael's article in US News & World Report on the controversial development of the hydrogen bomb after Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Big Science was reviewed on the front page of the NY Times Book Review, Sunday, July 19, 2015.

Read the LA Times review of Big Science


Seventy years ago, on July 16, 1945, Ernest Lawrence was one of the official observers of the Trinity bomb test at Alamagordo, New Mexico--the first test explosion of an atomic bomb in history. Like most of the observers, he was asked to prepare an official statement of what he had witnessed, but perhaps because of his preeminent role in the Manhattan Project, his stature, and his close relationship with Manhattan Project chief Gen. Leslie Groves, his was the only statement sent on to the White House with Groves' official report of the successful test.

The episode is recounted in Chapter 14 of Big Science, entitled "The Road to Trinity," and Lawrence's two-page typed statement, describing "a gigantic ball of fire rising rapidly from the earth," followed by the "sharp loud crack" of the shock wave two minutes later, is here.

Read Michael's Los Angeles Times columns:

michael-hiltzikMichael Hiltzik is a Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist and author who has covered
business, technology, and public policy for the
Los Angeles Times for three decades. He
currently serves as the Times’s business
columnist and hosts its business blog, The
Economy Hub. His books include The New
Deal, Colossus, Dealers of Lightning,
and The Plot
Against Social Security.
Read more>>


Other Books by Michael Hiltzik