The Bancroft Library's online exhibit "Breaking Through: A Century of Physics at Berkeley" details the origins of physics research at Berkeley starting in 1868, and including the building of the cyclotron by a young Ernest Lawrence (for whom the Lawrence Livermore and Lawrence Berkeley Lab are named for):
The story begins on a spring evening in 1929, when a young Ernest Lawrence happened to be browsing the Archiv fuer Elektrotechnik (reportedly to stave off boredom in a meeting). He read about a new method for accelerating charged particles.
In that moment, Lawrence thought of a way to dramatically improve the design. Hurrying back to LeConte Hall, he encountered a colleague’s wife and announced, “I’m going to be famous.”