AUTHORWeart, Spencer R.
TITLEScientists with a Secret
PERIODICAL TITLEPhysics Today
DATE PUBLISHED1976
VOLUME NUMBER29
ISSUE NUMBERn/a
PAGE NUMBERS23-30
ISSN0031-9228


This article reviews the efforts of physicist Leo Szilard and others to keep the possibility of nuclear weapons secret soon after the discovery of fission and in the early days of World War II. Using papers and interviews, the author recounts the initial failure and eventual success to keep scientific fission research undisclosed. He tells of Szilard’s realization that nuclear chain reactions might be possible and his fear of that knowledge falling into the Nazis’ hands. He describes Szilard’s work with Enrico Fermi on neutron emission from fission and his contact with the scientists in France, led by Frédéric Joliot, who were doing the same work. The article also discusses the details of Szilard’s plans to keep the results of nuclear research quiet and the success of the voluntary silence due to the work of Gregory Breit.


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