Treasures from the Archives

Taken from ORNL, “The News” Apr-Jun 1961


                    ORNL Biology Division made a major scientific advance in understanding the complex biochemical and genetic processes taking place in all living cells.  This research lead to how proteins are synthesized in converting food into energy and into new cell materials.  This discovery will allow to test, in the laboratory, many genetic theories, to isolate the gene, determine gene size, and to unravel the genetic code by which hereditary information is passed on to newly formed cells.


                    ORNL and the American Rocket Society sponsored a Space Nuclear Conference to discuss problems of mutual interest in atomic energy and space research.  This conference attracted some of the most well-known authorities in this field. Renowned missile expert Wernher von Braun, director of NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center, spoke on “The Saturn Project” and ORNL's Dr. Alvin Weinberg spoke on “The Impact of Large Scale Research in the U.S.A.”


                    Site preparation for construction of the High Flux Isotope Reactor (HFIR) began.  The scheduled target for HFIR operation is 1964.  The reactor will be used primarily for production of transuranium elements for research and provide useful information in nuclear power technology.  It is designed for operation at 100 megawatts, water cooled and will utilize fully-enriched uranium fuel in a flux-trap configuration.


                    Dr. Alvin M. Weinberg, becomes the third ORNL elected member to the National Academy of Sciences.  The two other elected members were Dr.  S.C. Lind and Dr.  Alexander Hollaender.  The Academy, was established by an Act of Congress and approved by President Lincoln in 1863 and as of 1960 it has 615 members of which the largest membership is 92 in Physics.


                    ORNL's Thermonuclear Division has made significant advance on controlled fusion.  The Direct Current Experiment, a controlled thermonuclear device, has succeeded in increasing the containment time for rapidly circulating hydrogen ions at moderate densities in a magnetic field.  Containment of the hydrogen ions has been one of the major problems associated with attempts to attain the fusion process for possible production of electric power.


                    Construction is in progress at ORNL: the 10 Mev tandem Van de Graff Laboratory, the Metals and Ceramics Laboratory, The Radioisotope Development Laboratory and the High-Radiation Level Examination Laboratory are all to be completed in 1961.