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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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New Particles

New Particles

Chapter:
(p.148) 7 New Particles
Source:
The Age of Innocence
Author(s):

Roger H. Stuewer

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/oso/9780198827870.003.0007

In December 1931, Harold Urey discovered deuterium (and its nucleus, the deuteron) by spectroscopically detecting the faint companion lines in the Balmer spectrum of atomic hydrogen that were produced by the heavy hydrogen isotope. In February 1932, James Chadwick, stimulated by the claim of the wife-and-husband team of Irène Curie and Frédéric Joliot that polonium alpha particles cause the emission of energetic gamma rays from beryllium, proved experimentally that not gamma rays but neutrons are emitted, thereby discovering the particle whose existence had been predicted a dozen years earlier by Chadwick’s mentor, Ernest Rutherford. In August 1932, Carl Anderson took a cloud-chamber photograph of a positron traversing a lead plate, unaware that Paul Dirac had predicted the existence of the anti-electron in 1931. These three new particles, the deuteron, neutron, and positron, were immediately incorporated into the experimental and theoretical foundations of nuclear physics.

Keywords:   deuterium, deuteron, neutron, positron, anti-electron

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