AUTHORAnderson, Herbert L.
TITLEThe Legacy of Fermi and Szilard
PERIODICAL TITLEThe Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists
ISSUE NUMBERSeptember, October
PAGE NUMBERS56-62; 40-47

This two-part article examines the history of fission and chain reactions, including the roles of Enrico Fermi and Leo Szilard, up to the creation and testing of the first atomic bomb in 1945. Anderson, a Manhattan project scientist who had worked with Szilard and Fermi, begins with Szilard’s realization of the possibilities of nuclear chain reactions in the early 1930s. Anderson then describes the discovery of fission and his work with John Dunning, which produced evidence of nuclear fission in early 1939. He also describes Fermi and Szilard’s efforts to measure neutron emission from fission and their experiments with a graphite moderator. Those experiments led to the first nuclear pile and the first chain reaction at the University of Chicago in 1942, which Anderson was able to witness. Anderson closes with the Trinity Test and his role in the Manhattan Project.

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