Work on Atomic Physics (1912–1917)


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Despite her own reluctance to leave Nazi Germany, Meitner was fiercely critical of the other prominent scientists who remained behind, including Hahn — to whom she wrote a blistering rebuke many years later, despite their lifelong professional collaboration and friendship — and Werner Heisenberg, who led the Nazi development effort for an atomic bomb. Meitner found herself working with Niels Bohr in Stockholm, Sweden, continuing her collaboration with Hahn via mail.


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The two even managed to meet secretly in Copenhagen to plan a new series of experiments. Hahn successfully performed the experiments with Fritz Strassmann in Berlin, but he wrote to Meitner that he was mystified by the fact that bombarding the uranium target with neutrons actually produced lighter elements. Meitner and Frisch did just that, invoking a theory of nuclear fission that utilized the liquid drop model to explain how a uranium nucleus could split, with the reduction in nuclear mass appearing as the energy released.

They published their conclusions on February 11, However, when Hahn published his results in Nature in January , he failed to list Meitner as a co-author — a controversial decision, especially since he never corrected the omission after the war ended. An element , meitnerium is named after her, along with an asteroid and craters on the moon and Venus. Meitner never returned to Germany. She continued to travel and lecture regularly even after retiring to England in But her health was declining: she suffered a heart attack and accompanying atherosclerosis, exacerbated by a series of small strokes and a fall that broke her hip.

She died on October 27, at 89, and was buried near her younger brother, Walter, in Bramley, Hampshire. Cornell , Wolfgang Ketterle and Carl E. Zhores I. Jack S.

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Robert B. Laughlin , Horst L. David M. Lee , Douglas D. Osheroff and Robert C. Martin L. Bertram N. Clifford G. Russell A. Hulse and Joseph H. Taylor Jr. Jerome I. Friedman , Henry W. Kendall and Richard E. Norman F. But apart from the shortcomings it was a very fine lab, nice rooms, and lots of people working there—able people I remember Moseley very well, with whom I was on very friendly terms. I will tell you later about his work. And Charles Darwin was there. He was lecturing in theoretical physics.

And Russell, who later came to Oxford. An Italian, Rossi, did spectroscopic work. He showed that ionium and sodium have the same spectrum. And then Geiger was there. He was an assistant. And also an assistant named Makower, who died since. Geiger and Makower published a book together.

Work on Atomic Physics (1912 - 1917) (Niels Bohr - Collected Works)

And also a chap Robinson, who worked on beta rays. Gray, a New Zealand man. Marsden who came from Australia. Fajans who came from Germany.

And Boltwood was there for a while. He came from Yale. Rutherford invited him in hope that Boltwood, a great chemist, would purify ionium, but he failed as many others. Rutherford arrived with many research questions in mind.

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He was not done with the puzzles of the decay families of thorium, radium, etc. Boltwood and Hahn both worked with Rutherford in Manchester, Boltwood in — and Hahn in — That is, he was leaving radio-chemistry to others and turning to physics. Rutherford's early team at Manchester included Geiger and William Kay — , junior laboratory assistant since Rutherford promoted Kay to laboratory steward in , to manage lab equipment and to aid him in his research.

In , Kay thought back to his youth with Rutherford in an interview.

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The language is quaint, but the description is as close to Rutherford's approach as we get. The questioner was Samuel Devons — , who was one of Rutherford's last students in the s. We used to, I used to set up nearly all his apparatus. You know, when he did his work, you know, oftener than not, he used to tell me and we did a rough experiment, re It gives you And then we would do a rough experiment, and get one or two curves you see, and then straight away button it on to somebody else to do the real work, and that's how he did his They observed these through a microscope and counted the scintillations at different angles of dispersion.

The instrument, which evolved into the "Geiger counter," had a partially evacuated metal cylinder with a wire down its center. They applied a voltage between the cylinder and the wire high enough almost to spark. These then collided with other molecules and produced more ions, and so on.

Geiger and Rutherford published several articles in and on these methods and their use.


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Geiger is a good man and worked like a slave. I could never have found time for the drudgery before we got things going in good style. Finally all went well, but the scattering is the devil.

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Our tube worked like a charm and we could easily get a throw of 50 mm. Geiger is a demon at the work of counting scintillations and could count at intervals for a whole night without disturbing his equanimity. I damned vigorously and retired after two minutes. Quoted in Eve, p. One kind of experiment was not enough. One kind of detector was not enough. He wanted more proof.

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So he needed a new line of attack. The new line was very simple, a chemical procedure mixed with physics. For this work Rutherford recruited Thomas Royds — , who had earned his Physics Honours degree in They studied the emitted light in a spectroscope and found it to be identical to the spectrum of helium.

Within a few months, Rutherford was awarded the Nobel Prize for Chemistry, "for his investigations into the disintegration of the elements, and the chemistry of radioactive substances. Rutherford next turned his attention to using them to probe the atom.

Work on Atomic Physics (1912–1917) Work on Atomic Physics (1912–1917)
Work on Atomic Physics (1912–1917) Work on Atomic Physics (1912–1917)
Work on Atomic Physics (1912–1917) Work on Atomic Physics (1912–1917)
Work on Atomic Physics (1912–1917) Work on Atomic Physics (1912–1917)
Work on Atomic Physics (1912–1917) Work on Atomic Physics (1912–1917)

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