AUTHORBadash, Lawrence / Hodes, Elizabeth / Tiddens, Adolph
TITLENuclear Fission: Reaction to the Discovery in 1939
PUBLISHERInstitute on Global Conflict and Cooperation, UC San Diego
CITYSan Diego, CA

This research paper offers a concise history of nuclear physics and how atomic energy evolved as an idea in the world’s consciousness. Badash and his coauthors show how the world, and especially physicists, reacted to Becquerel’s discovery of radioactivity in 1896, and discuss the reaction to ideas of fission and to evidence of fission in 1939. The authors trace the continuing development of atomic physics in relation to the popular and educated view of supposed unlimited energy. Enrico Fermi and Leo Szilard are portrayed as two of the most visionary pioneers of the science. The authors show the developments after Fermi split the atom, and how atomic power became regarded as a source of destructive energy in war. The paper offers some very interesting opinions, which were cutting-edge at the time of publication in 1985, of the future of nuclear physics and the path of atomic energy. It contains an extensive bibliography. The paper was also published in Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society, 130 (June 1986), 196-231.

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