Current News Archive
Ronnie Bogard, Advisory Board for the Children's Museum of Oak Ridge
Alvin Weinberg, circa 1960; photo courtesy of ORNL
Efforts are underway to digitize the papers of Dr. Alvin Weinberg (1915–2006) and make them accessible to the public. If you are familiar with the terms "big science" and "technological fix" then you are likely familiar with Weinberg's body of work. He began his work in theoretical physics at the University of Chicago and was part of the team that created the first nuclear chain reaction, known as the Chicago Pile. Weinberg became the research director of Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) in 1948, and he was the laboratory director from 1955 to 1973. He was a pioneer in reactor design and energy research, including the Molten Salt Reactor. He later founded and became the director of Oak Ridge Associated Universities (ORAU) Institute for Energy Analysis.
Weinberg believed maintaining the early history of Oak Ridge and its role in World War II and scientific achievements was critical. Weinberg donated over 200 boxes of his papers to the Children's Museum of Oak Ridge (CMOR) and asked that they preserve them as part of their Oak Ridge history collections. The Weinberg Papers consist of correspondence, laboratory notebooks, manuscripts, reports, publications, and slides and include documents dated from the 1940s to the 1980s. A project team with representatives from ORAU, ORNL, Friends of ORNL, Y-12, University of Tennessee, and CMOR are working to convert the Weinberg Papers collection to digital format so that they are easily searchable and also preserved.
Weinberg was not only a proponent of nuclear technology, he was also a philosopher, an ethicist, and a mentor. Through this project he will continue to influence future generations. (Donations to aid in the project can be mailed to Children's Museum of Oak Ridge, 469 W. Outer Drive, Oak Ridge, TN 37830. Include "Weinberg Project" in the memo line of the check.)