UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, BERKELEY
Approaching Forty...Years on the faculty of the Nuclear Engineering Department, that is. A great deal has changed since this time in 1978 when I was appointed as an Assistant Professor at UC Berkeley at age 22. The world's enthusiasm for nuclear energy was dampened the following March with the Three Mile Island (TMI) accident in Pennsylvania. Fusion energy was in an enormous growth phase, with a $380 million experiment underway at Livermore, and an even bigger one at Princeton. The first Cray-I was installed at Livermore in 1978 and it was a single processor 80 megaflop machine. I worked on building microwave sources, negative ion sources, and started a compact toroid magnetic fusion experiment in the 1980s. Just as public opinion for nuclear was getting over TMI, we had the Chernobyl accident in 1986. In the 1990s, the National Ignition Facility laser fusion project started, and I brought in the Rotating Target Neutron Source (RTNS) from Livermore and used it to irradiate NIF concrete samples, detectors, and to get cross section data relevant to India's claims of thermonuclear weapon development. September 11, 2001 saw the growth of interest in nuclear terrorism, and I ran a large project called DoNuTS (for Domestic Nuclear Threat Security) from 2007 to 2013. I became interested in nuclear resonance fluorescence and nuclear forensics. March 2011 focused everyone on fission reactor safety (again!) with Fukushima, and I had a fair share of media outreach. At this time, the fastest computer in the world is from China (93 petaflops), North Korea has working nuclear explosives and has put satellites in orbit, the ITER fusion machine won't have plasma until 2025, and California won't have any nuclear power after 2025. Now that we have cleared this up, I will tell everyone why it's so important to have really good nuclear engineers coming out of Berkeley.