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Monday, July 11, 2005

Al Ghiorso's 90th Birthday Symposium -- A Roster of Stellar Speakers

The symposium to be held on Friday, July 15 to honor Albert Ghiorso on his 90th birthday will take place in the Bldg 50 auditorium from 8:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. and is open to all without charge.  

Darleane Hoffman of the Nuclear Science Division will recount Ghiorso's early career, telling how with some help from his friends a gifted tinkerer became the world's foremost hunter of new elements. A much-honored nuclear chemist, Hoffman established her career at Los Alamos, where she became leader of the Nuclear Chemistry Division. She began collaborating with Ghiorso in the 1970s, joining Berkeley Lab and the University of California in 1984; her forte is studying the chemistry of short-lived elements one atom at a time.

Bernard Harvey, long-time staff scientist in the Nuclear Science Division and currently a guest there, collaborated with Ghiorso in the discovery of element 101; he will the recount the all-night experiment during which 17 atoms of that short-lived element appeared and left their chemical signatures, one by one.

Norway's Torbjørn Sikkeland was a colleague of Ghiorso's at Berkeley Lab and collaborated in the technically (and politically) complex discoveries of elements 102 and 103. He joins with Robert Silva, a gifted chemist who began his career as a student of Glenn Seaborg's at the time Seaborg discovered plutonium and went on to work at Oak Ridge, Berkeley Lab, and Livermore, to discuss the intricacies of capturing isotopes of fleeting heavy elements.

Kari and Pirkko Eskola return to Berkeley Lab from Finland, where he was a professor at the University of Helsinki and she followed her nuclear research career with a career in science education and publishing. They will relate the tumultuous years of the late 60s and early 70s when they were visiting scientists in Ghiorso's group and became codiscoverers of elements 104 and 105.

Jose and Carol Alonso will be on hand to recount the discovery of element 106, seaborgium, in 1974. Jose is retired from Berkeley Lab's Accelerator and Fusion Research Division after a career that included managing the BevaLAC and coordinating accelerator and target development at the Spallation Neutron Source in Oak Ridge, and Carol recently retired from high-level administrative posts at Lawrence Livermore Lab. On Seaborg's invitation, they left Yale University to join Ghiorso and his group in the hunt for element 106.  

Art Poskanzer, who joined Berkeley Lab in 1966, is credited with helping the Lab maintain an ongoing and significant presence in nuclear physics through experiments for studying nuclear matter like the STAR detector at RHIC. He will talk about the crucial roles played by Berkeley Lab accelerators in the search for the heavy elements, including Ghiorso's invention, the BevaLAC, the SuperHILAC, and other machines and detectors.  

Peter Armbruster of Germany's Gesellschaft für Schwerionenforschung (GSI) is a leader in the discovery of new elements. As a visiting researcher at Berkeley Lab during a search for Super Heavy Elements in the 1980s, he is in a unique position to discuss the intense competition and cooperation that existed between the world's major nuclear research establishments.  

The symposium's concluding speaker will be Walter Loveland. A nuclear chemist and professor at Oregon State University, Loveland was a key member of the coalition who joined in the search for element 110 -- using the SASSY2 detector, virtually made by hand by Al Ghiorso and his son Bill -- in the last days of the SuperHILAC in 1991. Loveland will recall the frustrations and triumphs of that final heroic effort.

Paul Preuss


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