AUTHORHerrmann, Günter
TITLEFive Decades Ago: From the "Transuranics" to Nuclear Fission
PERIODICAL TITLEAngewandte Chemie: A Journal of the Gesellschaft Deutscher Chemiker
DATE PUBLISHEDMay 1990
VOLUME NUMBER29
ISSUE NUMBER5
PAGE NUMBERS481-508
ISSN1433-7851
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Written by a student of the German chemist Fritz Strassmann, this article recounts the scientific and historical details leading to the discovery of uranium fission in December, 1938. While the effort toward the discovery of fission was international, including the Curies in France, Enrico Fermi in America, and Niels Bohr in Denmark, the article focuses on the work of Otto Hahn and Lise Meitner, scientists who worked together in Germany until Meitner, an individual of Jewish descent, was driven from the country. The author emphasizes that fission was only discovered through the careful examination of the secondary products of the reactions – none of the scientists were attempting to or predicted splitting of the atom; however, the discovery was not accidental. Instead, it was the fruit of many years of radiochemical analysis, which is detailed in the article. Original photographs, lab notes, experimental results, and graphs supplement the text.


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