AUTHORWheeler, John Archibald
TITLEFission in 1939: The Puzzle and the Promise
PERIODICAL TITLEAnnual Review of Nuclear and Particle Science
DATE PUBLISHED1989
VOLUME NUMBER1
ISSUE NUMBERn/a
PAGE NUMBERSxiii-xxviii
ISSN0066-4243
Web Access
Available online from Annual Reviews online


In this article, physicist John Wheeler recounts his participation in the development of nuclear theory during the 1930s, which culminated in the explanation of fission in 1939. The article personalizes one of the most significant scientific discoveries of the twentieth century in a lively narrative that combines nuclear theory with insight into the personalities of the scientists responsible for the discovery. The article describes Wheeler's association with Niels Bohr and other luminaries in the 1930s both at physics conferences and at Bohr’s Institute in Copenhagen. He also explains the model of the nucleus that was developed from those collaborations and how it described the fission of uranium nuclei. Included are several historical photographs of the scientists involved in early fission research.


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