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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 Machines

New Machines

Chapter:
(p.183) 8 New Machines
Source:
The Age of Innocence
Author(s):

Roger H. Stuewer

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/oso/9780198827870.003.0008

John Cockcroft and Ernest Walton designed and built their eponymous linear accelerator at the Cavendish with crucial help from scientists and engineers at the Metropolitan-Vickers company in Manchester. In April 1932, they produced 400-kilo-electron-volt protons with which they split the lithium nucleus into two alpha particles. Ernest Lawrence, stimulated by an article in German on the linear acceleration of positive ions, realized they would execute circular trajectories in a superposed perpendicular magnetic field, thereby conceiving the cyclotron principle. By January 1932, he and M. Stanley Livingston had built a 10-inch-diameter cyclotron with which they produced 1.2 million-electron-volt protons. These new accelerators transformed experimental nuclear physics. These two inventions and discovery of the deuteron, neutron, and positron garnered five Nobel Prizes. That Americans received three was a harbinger of the momentous shift occurring in the geographical center of experimental and theoretical nuclear physics.

Keywords:   Cockcroft–Walton accelerator, Metropolitan-Vickers company, disintegration of lithium, cyclotron, Nobel Prizes

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