A new science is born

in Nuclear Power

Published in print May 2011 | ISBN: 9780199584970
Published online September 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780191777875 | DOI:

Series: Very Short Introductions

A new science is born

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  • Nuclear Power and Engineering
  • Nuclear Issues (Environmental Science)


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By the end of the nineteenth century, it was clear that matter had an atomic structure, but the precise structure of the atoms and the reasons for their exact masses were a complete mystery. ‘A new science is born’ charts the development of atomic theory through the early twentieth century. Ernest Rutherford laid the foundations of the new science of nuclear physics, and in the early 1930s Cockcroft and Walton developed an accelerator which could increase the energy of charged particles, including alpha particles. Enrico Fermi and Leo Szilard developed the idea of a primitive self-sustaining reactor. The advances made by Paul Villard and Paul Dirac are explained.

Keywords: half-life; helium; hydrogen; radioactivity; tritium

Chapter.  3861 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Nuclear Power and Engineering ; Nuclear Issues (Environmental Science)

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