Oak Ridge National Laboratory


News Release

Media Contact: Bill Cabage (cabagewh@ornl.gov)
Communications and External Relations


UT-Battelle donates $25,000 to Alvin Weinberg memorial effort

OAK RIDGE, Tenn., July 20, 2011 — Oak Ridge National Laboratory managing contractor UT-Battelle has donated $25,000 to an effort to honor the memory of Alvin M. Weinberg, the Department of Energy national laboratory's first director who was recognized as a nuclear pioneer and science visionary.

ORNL's current laboratory director, Thom Mason, announced the donation at a ceremony dedicating the new Chemical and Materials Sciences Building, a major addition to the laboratory that Weinberg helped start nearly 70 years ago.

"It is indeed a privilege and honor to join the community in remembering Alvin Weinberg, whose contributions to Oak Ridge National Laboratory and to modern science are immeasurable," Mason said.

Weinberg, who died in 2006, directed ORNL for nearly 20 years, presiding over the laboratory's transition from a secret wartime project to a major multiprogram research institution. Following World War II he championed the peaceful uses of nuclear power — such as electric power generation and desalination of seawater — and wrote a textbook, The Physical Theory of Neutron Chain Reactors, with Nobel Prize winner Eugene Wigner.

Weinberg became a major influence in science policy as advances in nuclear physics and engineering resulted in what he termed the "first nuclear era" and in large, complex, capital-intensive projects. As the originator of the term "Big Science," his influence and reputation spanned the globe.

Weinberg was named ORNL's first official director in 1955 and served in that post until 1973. He remained in Oak Ridge the rest of his life.

UT-Battelle, a partnership between Battelle Memorial Institute and the University of Tennessee, began as managing contractor of ORNL in April 2000 and immediately embarked on a program of modernizing the lab that Weinberg helped start. His legacy there is recognized through programs such as the Weinberg Fellowships that attract top early career researchers to ORNL.

The UT-Battelle gift will go toward efforts to memorialize Weinberg through the Alvin Weinberg Memorial Committee. Those efforts include a planned documentary on Weinberg's career, a lecture series, commemorative plaques and the renaming of city of Oak Ridge tennis courts, where he avidly played, in his honor.

Members of the memorial executive committee include the Hon. Howard H. Baker, Gerald Boyd, Homer Fisher, Jack Gibbons, Tom Kilgore, Bill Madia, Thom Mason, Jack O'Hanihan, Andy Page, Ron Townsend and Alvin W. Trivelpiece.

Eight regional organizations have joined the Weinberg family and friends in efforts toward a memorial to Weinberg, including ORNL, Friends of ORNL, the local American Nuclear Society chapter, Oak Ridge Associated Universities, the Tennessee Valley Authority and the three Oak Ridge Rotary Clubs.

For more information on the Weinberg Memorial Fund, contact Steve Stow (865) 966-0268, shstow@aol.com or Tom Row, (865) 482-9096, tomhrow@comcast.net. Information on the activities of and how to donate to the Alvin Weinberg Memorial Fund is available at http://www.alvinweinbergmemorial.info.

ORNL is managed by UT-Battelle for the Department of Energy's Office of Science. ###