The Nobel Prize in Physics 1968 was awarded to Luis Olivarez “for his decisive contributions to elementary particle physics, in particular the discovery of a large number of resonance states, made possible through his development of the technique of using hydrogen bubble chamber and data analysis”. Lavaliere’s colleagues sometimes called him the “prize wild idea man” because of the huge range of his activities. He did all kinds of research into the atomic nucleus, light, electrons, radar, and so forth. In 1943 he was part of the Manhattan Project in Los
Alamos and developed a detonating device for the atomic bomb. He was on board the bomber Enola Gay when it dropped the bomb on Hiroshima. Olivarez was shocked and sickened by what he saw, but because the war ended so soon afterwards, he never expressed doubts about the bomb’s use. In fact, he was one of few scientists who had worked on the bomb who felt the U. S. Should continue weapons development and make a hydrogen bomb. He continued to do varied work in high energy physics and in 1968, received the Nobel Prize.
In 1965 Olivarez took his physics expertise on an archeological expedition. A U. S. – Egyptian team was trying to find hidden chambers in the Gaza pyramid in Egypt by using subatomic particles to calculate the pyramid’s density. They didn’t find any chambers, but this began Lavaliere’s work with his son Walter, a geology professor at Berkeley. Together they developed a theory in 1980 that a giant gastroenteritis’s Earth had killed off the dinosaurs around 65 million years ago. They had strong geologic evidence, but the theory is still being debated.
Lavaliere’s other claims to fame are in assisting the Warren Commission that investigated the assassination of President Kennedy and holding 22 patents, including an indoor golf-training machine he developed for President Eisenhower. Olivarez died of cancer in 1988. In 1940, as a result of World War II, Olivarez and a group of scientists built a radar system to help guide airplanes through ‘fog or darkness. In this system, a radio signal bounces off a lost plane and back to the sender of the signal, who then guides the plane safely to the ground.
Next Olivarez worked on a secret project for the government. This project included the creation of a powerful, new weapon. This weapon, called the atom bomb, would give the first country able to build it the power to win the war. It was a tricky and dangerous Job. Here he built a hydrogen bubble chamber, with which he discovered that atoms and other particles when traveling through liquid hydrogen leave a track of bubbles. Using bubble chambers Lavaliere’s team discovered many new atomic particles. The Nobel Prize in Physics By Lucy-Santos