Aerial view of Lawrence Berkeley Lab/Photo: LBL

For most residents of Berkeley, the Lawrence Berkeley National Lab is a mysterious presence on the hills over the university campus. Unless you work there or have business there, you won’t get passed the security on the gates.

Tomorrow, however, 4,000 members of the public will get a rare chance to visit the Lab on its first Open Day in eight years. The visitors will be able to take bus tours of the site, but the main activities will be in a covered tent space with exhibits and demonstrations about the scientific work that goes on at the Lab. Many of the exhibits will be on the pioneering work done at the Lab on energy.

“Our goal is to explain and entice the public with science, especially for families and kids,” said Jeff Miller, a spokesperson for LBL. “It’s as much a festival as an Open Day.”

Miller explained that the Lab runs monthly tours, but can only handle 30 people at a time. “We want people to come,” he said. “It’s great that we’re going to have so many people come out.”

LBL is one of the largest employers in Berkeley, with 3,800 employees (1,000 of whom will be at the Lab tomorrow for the Open Day), 25% of whom are Berkeleyans. It’s one of the smallest sites among the network of national labs, run by the Department of Energy. LBL recently announced it was starting a search for a second campus in the East Bay.

Lance Knobel (Berkeleyside co-founder) has been a journalist for nearly 40 years. Much of his career was in business journalism. He was editor-in-chief of both Management Today, the leading business magazine...