Chapter

New knowledge for new purposes

Sean F. Johnston

in The Neutron's Children

Published in print April 2012 | ISBN: 9780199692118
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191740732 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199692118.003.0002
New knowledge for new purposes

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This chapter surveys the intellectual and geographical terrain of early nuclear energy and introduces themes that will be at the core of the book. In setting the scene, it argues that international nuclear science became a fertile and attractive field from the turn of the twentieth century, and one that quickly encouraged a close intermingling with application and commerce. But the technical environments seeded by the Second World War brought scientists into closer contact with engineers and gestated new expertise, allowing it to grow rapidly into exotic forms at a few locations. These wartime hot-houses fostered unique national visions and specialists collaborating in a domain variously dubbed ‘atomic energy’, ‘nucleonics’, and ‘nuclear engineering’.

Keywords: radioactivity; international science; fission; World War II; nuclear physics; public engagement; application; engineering; administration; nuclear history

Chapter.  7383 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: History of Science and Technology

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