Summary History of Nuclear Energy

Exploring the Essence of the Atom


Uranium was discovered in 1789 by Martin Klaproth, a German chemist, and named after the planet Uranus. Ionizing radiation was detected By Wilhelm Roentgen in 1895, bypassing an electrical current through a vacuum glass tube and generating continuous X beams. Then in 1896, Henri Becquerel found that pitchblende caused a photographic plate to purge. He went on to demonstrate this was due to beta radiation and alpha particles being emitted. Villard found a third kind of radiation from pitchblende: gamma rays, which were much the same as X rays. Then in 1896 Pierre and Marie Curie gave the name radioactivity to this phenomenon. In 1898 isolated polonium and radium from the pitchblende. 


Radium was afterward utilized in medical treatment. In 1898 Samuel Prescott showed that radiation ruined bacteria in food. Back in 1902, Ernest Rutherford showed that radioactivity. As a spontaneous event emitting an alpha or beta particle from a nucleus, created another element. He went on to develop a fuller understanding of atoms. In 1919 he fired alpha particles from a radium source to nitrogen and found that atomic rearrangement took place. With the formation of oxygen. Niels Bohr was another researcher who advanced our understanding of the atom and the way electrons were organized around its nucleus through to the 1940 s. 


Harnessing Nuclear Fission


These 1939 developments triggered activity in many laboratories. Hahn and Strassmann showed that fission not only published a great deal of energy. It also released additional neutrons. That could lead to fission into other uranium nuclei and a self-sustaining chain reaction leading to a huge release of energy. This proposal was soon confirmed experimentally by Joliot and his co-workers in Paris. Leo Szilard working with Fermi at New York. Bohr soon proposed that fission was considerably more prone to occur in the uranium-235 isotope than in U-238 and that fission would happen more efficiently with slow-moving neutrons than with fast neutrons. 


The latter point was supported by Szilard and Fermi, who proposed utilizing a moderator to slow down the emitted neutrons. Bohr and Wheeler extended these ideas to what became the classical evaluation of the fission process, and their newspaper was released just two days before war broke out in 1939.


Nuclear physics at Russia


Russian atomic physics predates the Bolshevik revolution through over a decade. Work on radioactive minerals within Central Asia began in 1900 and the St Petersburg Academy of Sciences started a large scale investigation in 1909. The 1917 Revolution gave a boost to scientific research and over 10 physics institutes were established in major Russian cities, especially St Petersburg, in the years that followed. From the 1920 and early 30s. Many notable Russian physicists worked overseas, supported by the new regimen initially as the best method to raise the amount of expertise fast. These comprised Kirill Sinelnikov, Pyotr Kapitsa, and Vladimir Vernadsky.

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