nuclear fission

The First Self-Sustained Nuclear Chain Reaction

The First Self-Sustained Nuclear Chain Reaction

On December 2, 1942, during the Manhattan Project, a team led by Italian born physicist Enrico Fermi initiated the first self-sustaining nuclear chain reaction in the Chicago Pile-1 (CP-1), the world‘s first human-made nuclear reactor, and initiated the so-called atomic age. CP-1 was built on a rackets court, under the abandoned west stands of the original Alonzo Stagg Field stadium, at the University of Chicago. Nuclear Chain Reaction and the Atomic Bomb…
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Lise Meitner – The Misjudged Genius

Lise Meitner – The Misjudged Genius

On October 27, 1968, Austrian-Swedish physicist Lise Meitner passed away. She is known today for her passionate and extraordinary work on radioactivity and nuclear physics along with her colleague Otto Hahn,[1] who was honored with the Nobel Prize while Meitner stayed unrecognized. Family Background and Early Life Lise Meitner was born on November 7, 1878 in Vienna Leopoldstadt (2nd district of Vienna), Austria. She was the third daughter of the Jewish lawyer Philipp Meitner and…
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Otto Hahn – the Father of Nuclear Chemistry

Otto Hahn – the Father of Nuclear Chemistry

On March 8, 1879, German chemist and pioneer in the fields of radioactivity and radiochemistry Otto Hahn was born. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1944 for the discovery and the radiochemical proof of nuclear fission at the exclusion of his colleague Lise Meitner. He is referred to as the father of nuclear chemistry. Otto Hahn studied chemistry and mineralogy at the University of Marburg. During his third and fourth semester,…
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Harrison Brown and the Isolation of Plutonium

Harrison Brown and the Isolation of Plutonium

On September 26, 1916, American nuclear chemist and geochemist Harrison Scott Brown was born. Brown is generally known for his role in isolating plutonium for its use in the first atomic bombs and for his studies regarding meteorites and the Earth’s origin. He also was a political activist, who lectured and wrote on the issues of arms limitation, natural resources and world hunger. Harrison Brown was born in Sheridan, Wyoming, USA, the…
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Jordan Carson Mark and the Development of Thermonuclear Weapons

Jordan Carson Mark and the Development of Thermonuclear Weapons

On July 6, 1913, Canadian mathematician Jordan Carson Mark was born. Mark is best known for his work on developing nuclear weapons for the United States at the Los Alamos National Laboratory. He oversaw the development of new weapons, including the hydrogen bomb in the 1950s. On the hydrogen bomb project he was able to bring together experts like Edward Teller, Stanislaw Ulam and Marshall Holloway despite their personal differences. Jordan Carson…
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Alfred Nier – a Pioneer in Mass Spectroscopy

Alfred Nier – a Pioneer in Mass Spectroscopy

On May 28, 1911, American physicist Alfred Otto Carl Nier was born. Nier pioneered the development of mass spectrometry. He was the first to use mass spectrometry to isolate uranium-235 which was used to demonstrate that 235U could undergo fission and developed the sector mass spectrometer configuration now known as Nier-Johnson geometry. Alfred Otto Carl Nier attended the University of Minnesota and graduated in electrical engineering in 1931. Nier decided to continue…
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Edward Condon – Pioneer in Quantum Mechanics – SciHi Blog

Edward Condon – Pioneer in Quantum Mechanics – SciHi Blog

On March 2, 1902, American nuclear physicist Edward Uhler Condon was born. Condon was a pioneer in quantum mechanics and a participant in the development of radar and nuclear weapons during World War II as part of the Manhattan Project. The Franck–Condon principle and the Slater–Condon rules are co-named after him. Edward Uhler Condon was born in Alamogordo, New Mexico, to William Edward Condon and Carolyn Uhler. His father was supervising the…
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Otto Frisch and the Nuclear Fission

Otto Frisch and the Nuclear Fission

On October 1, 1904, Austrian-British physicist Otto Robert Frisch was born. With his aunt Lise Meitner, Frisch described the division of neutron-bombarded uranium into lighter elements. With his collaborator Rudolf Peierls he designed the first theoretical mechanism for the detonation of an atomic bomb in 1940. Otto Frisch was the son of the painter Justinian Frisch and the concert pianist Auguste Meitner Frisch. Even though Otto was talented in the arts, he…
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John Wheeler and the Golden Age of General Relativity

John Wheeler and the Golden Age of General Relativity

Eckehard W. Mielke together with John Archibald Wheeler in 1985 Image: Eckard Mielke On July 9, 1911, American theoretical physicist John Archibald Wheeler was born. Wheeler worked with Niels Bohr in explaining the basic principles behind nuclear fission as well as with Albert Einstein, with whom he tried to achieve Einstein’s vision of a unified field theory. He is also known for popularizing the term black hole, and for coining the terms quantum foam,…
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The Three Mile Island Accident

The Three Mile Island Accident

On March 28, 1979, a partial nuclear meltdown occurred in one of the two Three Mile Island nuclear reactors in Dauphin County, Pennsylvania. The so-called Three Mile Island Accident was the worst accident in U.S. commercial nuclear power plant history. Three Mile Island has got its name because it is located three miles downriver from Middletown, Pennsylvania. The plant was originally built by General Public Utilities Corporation and consists of two separate…
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