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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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The Quantum-Mechanical Nucleus

The Quantum-Mechanical Nucleus

Chapter:
(p.85) 5 The Quantum-Mechanical Nucleus
Source:
The Age of Innocence
Author(s):

Roger H. Stuewer

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/oso/9780198827870.003.0005

Rutherford extended his satellite model to encompass an explanation of the alpha decay of radioactive nuclei, which was abruptly disproven in the summer of 1928 by Russian theoretical physicist George Gamow, while visiting Max Born’s institute in Göttingen, and simultaneously by English theoretical physicist Ronald Gurney and American theoretical physicist Edward Condon at Princeton University, who showed that alpha decay is a quantum-mechanical tunneling phenomenon. That December, Gamow, now in Bohr’s institute in Copenhagen, also conceived the liquid-drop model of the nucleus, which he presented in January 1929 at a meeting of the Royal Society in London, and which he discussed that April at the first of Bohr’s annual conferences in Copenhagen. He developed that model further in the 1929–30 academic year at the Cavendish and in the 1930–1 academic year in Copenhagen, where he also wrote the first monograph on theoretical nuclear physics in which he cleverly expressed his doubt that electrons are present in nuclei.

Keywords:   alpha decay, quantum-mechanical tunneling, liquid-drop model, Copenhagen conferences, nuclear electrons

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