Spotlight on Los Alamos: Louis Rosen: Father of the linear accelerator

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By Carol A. Clark

Senior Laboratory Fellow Emeritus Louis Rosen led the way at Los Alamos National Laboratory in developing the world’s most powerful linear accelerator, which cemented the laboratory’s leadership role in nuclear physics.The linear accelerator first powered up in summer 1972. When it reached full energy, it generated pulses of 800-million-electron-volt protons at a repetition rate of up to 120 per second and an average current of one milliampere.Rosen’s renowned scientific efforts led to the construction of the Los Alamos Meson Physics Facility (LAMPF) at LANL, which is known today as the Los Alamos Neutron Science Center (LANSCE). He served as director of the facility from its inception to 1986.With the end of the Cold War, the Department of Energy’s Office of Defense Programs determined that LANSCE would be an important element of its science-based stockpile stewardship program. Rosen’s wartime work in neutron cross-section measurements and nuclear test diagnostics continues on today through new generations of scientists.In 1997, LANL dedicated the Louis Rosen Auditorium in honor of the highly accomplished scientist.Rosen recounts details of his historical life, including his interactions with China and the Soviet Union, in a three-part series, “Behind the White Coat: Conversations with Los Alamos Scientists,” set to air at 8 p.m.

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