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Lauritsen, Charles Christian, 1892-1968 (Nuclear Physicist)



  • Existence: 1892 - 1968


Background: Caltech Professor of Physics, 1930-1962; Caltech alumnus (PhD, 1929).


Description: Lauritsen may be seen as one of the three great American pioneers of nuclear physics, in company with Merle Tuve and Ernest O. Lawrence. Over the years, discoveries made by Lauritsen's research group were widely influential in nuclear astrophysics, radiation therapy (specifically, radiation dosimetry), mirror nuclei and charge symmetry, nuclear beta decay, the energy of the sun, atomic spectroscopy, the time scales of nucleosynthesis, and solid state physics. He played a key role in placing rockets in the US's weapons arsenal in World War II, thereby directly influencing the course and outcome of the war. His later presence as a regular and esteemed advisor to the US government on scientific and military matters helped to shape American defense policy during much of the Cold War era.


Collection Notes: Papers, 1927-1968. Includes research notes and data, correspondence (both personal and official), reprints, photographs, and miscellany relative to his work at Caltech, for private organizations, and for government agencies. The largest section is correspondence covering a period of over thirty years, however there is none from World War II and very little from the 1930s. A card file name index is also available. Organizations and corporations, the second largest section, includes his consulting work and professional activities, though there are large gaps because a great deal of his government work was classified.

Collection size: 15 boxes, 6 linear ft.

Finding aid available at the Archives.

Photo of Charles C. Lauritsen (PhotoNet).

See also: Thomas Lauritsen.

Found in 12 Collections and/or Records:

Electroscope, quartz fiber

 Unprocessed Material
Identifier: 1994-00040

William A. Fowler Papers

Identifier: 10070-MS
Abstract These papers document the career of William A. Fowler, who served on the physics faculty at California Institute of Technology from 1939 until 1982. Focusing heavily on nuclear physics and astrophysics, the Fowler papers form a rich and important collection for the history of physics, and illustrate the politics and sociology of science in the twentieth century. They also contain substantial material on Caltech's World War II rocket developments, plus documents on Project Vista, a Cold-War...
Dates: 1917-1994

Lauritsen And H.R. Crane Photograph

 Unprocessed Material
Identifier: 1988-00561

Charles Christian Lauritsen Papers

Identifier: LauritsenCC
Scope and Contents

The Charles C. Lauritsen papers consist of correspondence, patent material, research notes and data, photographs, reprints, and materials relating to work for Caltech, government agancies, and private organizations. The complete finding aid is available at the Online Archive of California, and the link can be accessed in the External Documents section of this record.

Dates: 1927-1977

Margaret Lauritsen Leighton Oral History Interview with Shelley Erwin, 1995-05-11 - 1995-06-23

Scope and Contents Margaret was married to, first, Thomas Lauritsen, and after his death in 1973, to Robert B. Leighton. Her oral history is principly a reminiscence of the Lauritsen family, including her husband, Thomas, and his father, Charles Christian Lauritsen (both physicists at Caltech). For further information, see her profile, as well as the profiles of both of her husbands and her father-in-law. Abstract: An interview in three sessions, in May and June 1995, with Margaret Lauritsen Leighton, wife...
Dates: 1995-05-11 - 1995-06-23

Memorial Service

 Unprocessed Material
Identifier: 1986-00364

Memorial Service

 Unprocessed Material
Identifier: 1999-00181

Additional filters:

Unprocessed Material 8
Archival Object 2
Collection 2
Physics 8
Manuscript Collection 3
Memorial 2
Oral History 2
Photo Archive 2