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Los Alamos National Laboratory Research Quarterly, Winter 2003
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Rosen and Cowan
Awarded Laboratory Medals

Recipients of the 2002 Los Alamos National Laboratory Medal are Laboratory Fellow Louis Rosen and Senior Fellow Emeritus George Cowan. "Both recipients have earned international accolades for their scientific and professional accomplishments," said Laboratory Director John Browne.

Established in 2001, the new medal is the highest honor the Laboratory can bestow on an individual or small group. Noble Laureate Hans Bethe and former Laboratory Director Harold Agnew were the first to receive this annual award.

Louis Rosen began his career at the Laboratory in 1944, when he joined the Manhattan Project. "My long association with the Lab has been as intellectually rewarding as any job can be, due in good measure to my very gifted colleagues as well as to a highly supportive spouse. I was fortunate to have both," said Rosen.

Rosen is being recognized for his outstanding scientific contributions to the Laboratory and to the nation. His early work in neutron cross-section measurements and nuclear test diagnostics set the standard for the Laboratory. From the early 1960s through the 1980s, Rosen's leadership in diversifying Los Alamos led to development of the Los Alamos Meson Physics Facility (LAMPF) as a premier nuclear-physics facility for the nation and the world. Throughout the Cold War years, Rosen also advocated that relationships with scientists from Russia and China be continued as a means of reducing tensions and improving understanding. Rosen received the E. O. Lawrence Award in 1963 and many other awards and honors throughout his career.

George Cowan came to the Laboratory in late 1945, when he also joined those working on the Manhattan Project. "I was lucky to have worked at the Lab during a historic period, and I never lacked resources or competent associates," he added.

Cowan is being recognized as the driving force in the early radiochemical evaluations of nuclear weapons and for undertaking key scientific investigations during nuclear tests. He was awarded the E. O. Lawrence Award in 1965 and the prestigious Fermi Award in 1990 for contributions during his career as a nuclear scientist. Throughout his career, Cowan was an avid spokesman for science at the Laboratory. His service on the White House Science Council from 1982 to 1986 was invaluable to the debates on national security. Cowan also was a past president and founder of the Santa Fe Institute. He became a Senior Fellow at the Laboratory in 1981 and is currently a Laboratory Senior Fellow Emeritus.

Rosen and Cowan will be honored at an award ceremony in 2003 to be held in conjunction with the Laboratory's 60th anniversary celebration.—Kathryn Ostic

Spectra Gases Reopens Lab Facility

In October, the Laboratory and Los Alamos Commerce and Development Corp. joined Spectra Gases in celebrating its new production facility for stable isotopes. The New Jersey company has leased and renovated the Lab's Isotopes of Carbon, Oxygen, and Nitrogen (ICON) facility, where it is now producing high-purity carbon-13, oxygen-17, and oxygen-18. Production of these gases for nuclear medicine and biomedical research will minimize U.S. dependence on foreign sources.

In the late 1960s, Lab scientists pioneered the use cryogenic columns to produce stable isotopes (i.e., isotopes that do not undergo spontaneous radioactive decay). Cooled almost to the point of liquefying in 200- to 700-foot-long columns, the naturally occurring gases stratify, with the heavier isotopes settling to the bottom and the lighter ones rising to the top. Once separated, the stable isotopes are then collected. After operating ICON in the 1970s and 1980s, the Laboratory mothballed the facility in 1989, transferring the technology to the private sector.

In August 2001, the Department of Energy signed a long-term lease that turned the facility over to Los Alamos Commerce and Development Corp., which in turn subleased ICON to Spectra Gases. Over the next thirteen months, Spectra Gases revitalized the facility, designing, fabricating, and installing new process equipment and upgrading the facility's ventilation system to meet current industry standards. The ICON facility is now operated by Spectra Stable Isotopes, a subsidiary of Spectra Gases.

Spectra Gases is a leading international supplier of high-purity, rare, and isotopic gases. In addition to supplying the Lab with stable isotopes for biomedical research, the company will use the isotopes to make labeled biochemicals—such as amino acids, carbohydrates, and nucleic acids—for research into the atomic structure of these compounds. Spectra Gases expects to hire fifty people for its northern New Mexico operations over the next five years.—Judyth Prono




Medal winners Louis Rosen & George Cowan




















Tom Mills adjusts a gas-sampling panel at the ICON facility. Mills, a retired Lab employee who worked at ICON in the 1970s and 1980s, is a consultant for Spectra Gases, Inc.


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