As the widow of Ernest Lawrence, I am gratified that the media are finally becoming aware of the kind of institution the Livermore Laboratory has degenerated into, largely under the influence of Edward Teller. However, my gratification over the publication of your excellent article is somewhat tempered by my disappointment that The Times, like so many others, has been taken in by the all-too-prevalent myth that Teller was the founder, or at least co-founder, of the Livermore Lab (although his persistent demands for a second weapons laboratory played an important part in its beginnings). Since I've been trying for five years to have my husband's name removed from the title of the lab, you might think I would be glad to have Teller called a founder; instead, I am infuriated by this common error.
Ernest Lawrence established Livermore in 1952, when a second weapons laboratory made good sense. True, he founded Livermore as a weapons laboratory--but quite a modest one, seeking scientific and technological solutions to the nuclear dilemma until such time as political and diplomatic negotiations might give better answers. Today, Livermore is still a weapons laboratory, but it is now overly large, shockingly costly, dangerously influential and politically rather than scientifically oriented. Its administrators and top scientists pose as defense experts and are treated as such by government, although they are actually lobbyists for their own "products," no different from other defense contractors.
MARY B. LAWRENCE