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The Age of InnocenceNuclear Physics between the First and Second World Wars$
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Roger H. Stuewer

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780198827870

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198827870.001.0001

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European and Nuclear Disintegration

European and Nuclear Disintegration

Chapter:
(p.22) 2 European and Nuclear Disintegration
Source:
The Age of Innocence
Author(s):

Roger H. Stuewer

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/oso/9780198827870.003.0002

The horrific carnage on both sides of the conflict in the Great War of 1914–18 and the harsh postwar treaties transformed the face of Europe. Nuclear physics was also transformed, shortly before Rutherford left Manchester for Cambridge in early 1919, by his discovery of artificial nuclear disintegration, that alpha particles can disintegrate the nitrogen nucleus. He pursued his discovery at the Cavendish with his former Manchester student James Chadwick, who along with Charles Ellis and many others had been interned during the war in former racehorse stables in Ruhleben on the western outskirts of Berlin. Rutherford explained his discovery by assuming that an incident alpha particle expels a proton orbiting about a central core in the nitrogen nucleus, leaving a residual nucleus of lower atomic number.

Keywords:   Great War, artificial nuclear disintegration, Ruhleben internment camp, nuclear satellite model

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