This classic image shows a Radiation Laboratory technician, Carl Goss, installing an airborne fire control radar in the rear gun turret of a B‑24 Liberator. By the end of World War II, the Radiation Laboratory made use of 95 different US Army and Navy aircraft at the airport in Bedford, Massachusetts – now Hanscom Field.
MIT was founded as a land-grant university during President Lincoln’s administration, when people were mired in a conflagration and had plenty to do besides start a school. They still thought that the idea of MIT was important enough to invest their time and resources when there were many more pressing problems. MIT was forged in its current form during the 20th century, in part by people whose work helped stopped U‑boats and free children from behind barb wire. RLE, as the “Rad Lab,” was part of that, and the privilege and responsibility of helping support and sustain our service to society wakes us up every morning, and keeps us working late at night. MIT and RLE were founded on a boundless faith in the talent and possibilities of mind and hand and heart. You might be pleased to know that, today, our graduate students and investigators echo the passion, impatience with the status quo, and the talent and energy of the generations who gave us the gifts and opportunities we enjoy here today.
There is a world that you can only see when you close your eyes.
Today, RLE nurtures a community of physicists, scientists, and engineers across many departments at MIT. RLE helps give these artists, crafters, and visionaries the chance to perceive unseen parts of our world. RLE helps provide the resources and opportunities that allow our investigators and students to close their eyes and imagine the world that could be.