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After he returned to Berkeley, Ernest Lawrence mobilized his team to go painstakingly over the results in order to gather enough evidence to convince Chadwick. Meanwhile, at the Cavendish laboratory, Ernest Rutherford and Mark Oliphant found that deuterium fuses to form helium-3, which causes the effect that the cyclontroneers had observed. Not only was Chadwick correct in that they had been observing contamination, but they had overlooked another important discovery, of nuclear fusion. Lawrence pressed on with the creation of larger cyclotrons. The 27-inch cyclotron was superseded by a 37-inch cyclotron in June 1937. In May 1939, the 60-inch cyclotron was started it. It was used to bombard iron and produced its first radioactive isotopes in June, and the first cancer patient received neutron therapy from it on November 20.
Lawrence was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in November 1939 "for the invention and development of the cyclotron and for results obtained with it, especially with regard to artificial radioactive elements". He was the first at Berkeley to become a Nobel Laureate, and the first to be so honored while at a state-supported university. The award ceremony was held on February 29, 1940, in Berkeley, California due to World War II, in the auditorium of Wheeler Hall on the campus of the university.