E. O. Lawrence Award for Physics

Prof. Robert B. Laughlin
Department of Physics
Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305

The E. O. Lawrence Award is a Department of Energy prize given annually in a number of categories ranging from pure science to energy-related engineering. The physics category is scientific. It is a "significant" prize - meaning that it is both competitive and materially significant. The award consisted in 1984 of a certificate, a gold metal and a cash grant of $10,000.

The Lawrence Award for Physics was the first important prize that Dr. Laughlin won for his fractional quantum hall work. He was nominated by John Nuckolls, then head of the Physics Division at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. (Laughlin had done the work in the Livermore "cooler", a trailer in which new hires sit while waiting for their security clearances to come through.) Nuckolls was himself an extremely versatile physicist. He had recently won the James Clerk Maxwell Prize for his work on inertial confinement fusion. He later went on to become Livermore Director.

The Lawrence Award medal is approximately 2 inches in diameter.

The award ceremony took place on December 4, 1984, in the Forrestal building in Washington, D.C. Dr. Laughlin's speech was characteristically humorous, and followed the usual thanks of family and mentor with a special thanks for all the people who paid for the research. It was the sort of joke that you tell to a room full of Republicans. But Secretary of Energy Donald Hodel, who was making the awards in person, would not be upstaged. His eyes twinkled as he answered, "You're welcome! (pause) Was ten thousand dollars enough?"

The photograph below was taken on December 4, 1984, immediately after the Lawrence Award ceremony. Left to Right: (1) Dr. Peter Hagelstein (now a professor at M.I.T), winner of the nuclear technology Lawrence Award for his invention of XRASER, an X-ray laser computer code central to the Reagan administration's "star wars" antimissile program; (2) Dr. Roger Bazel, then Director of the Livermore Laboratory; (3) Dr. Laughlin; (4) Dr. Edward Teller.