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War broke out in Europe at the end of the 1930s, and the United States was on the verge of joining in when, on April 3, 1940, the meeting of trustees of the Rockefeller Foundation (RF) decided on a grant of $1,150,000 to support the construction of a new 184-inch cyclotron at the University of California. This paper elucidates the process leading up to that decision. The decision-making process can be divided into three stages: The first, beginning in October 1939, saw initial enthusiasm for the giant cyclotron project; the second, lasting until February 1940, involved changes in the foundation's internal circumstances and limitations on funding; the third, which began in early February 1940, saw specific steps toward the materialization of RF support for the project.
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