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Discoveries that Changed the World, 1932–1942: James Chadwick and Lise Meitner
11.06.2021 Gerry Lander
Physics
James Chadwick

Although the birth of quantum mechanics and relativity are rightly hailed as the greatest achievements in physics of the 20th century, the 10 years between 1932 and 1942 witnessed a new understanding in the structure of the nucleus that had, and still has, momentous consequences for mankind. This article gives a short account of those years as seen through the lives of James Chadwick (1891–1974) and Lise Meitner (1878–1968).

This manuscript is an abridged version of a talk I have given in various places in the last year. There is no original research on my part and I wish to acknowledge the sources listed in the references (plus many others) for fascinating me for many years. I also thank Terry Willis for insisting I try to synthesize this story into a talk, first given at the Oxford Neutron School in 2005, and Joel Mesot and Kurt Clausen for convincing me at a dinner in Villigen to provide a text version for Neutron News.

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