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The mechanism of nuclear fission. Offprint

First Theoretical Paper on Nuclear Fission

Bohr, Niels (1885-1962) and John A. Wheeler (1911-2008). The mechanism of nuclear fission. Offprint from The Physical Review 56 (1939). 426-450pp. 268 x 200 mm. Original printed wrappers. Fine copy.

First Edition, Offprint Issue of the first theoretical paper on nuclear fission. In January 1939 Lise Meitner and Otto Frisch, with Bohr’s encouragement, published a letter in Nature announcing their discovery of nuclear fission in uranium. The news took the scientific world by storm, with over 100 papers on uranium fission experiments appearing in the next twelve months, but Bohr was the only one during this period to publish on the theoretical aspects of this phenomenon. Collaborating with American physicist John A. Wheeler, Bohr worked out in great detail the complete theory of nuclear fission, publishing the results in the present paper. “In this work Bohr met with two old loves: the compound nucleus of 1936 and the study of the relation between surface tension and surface vibrations . . . Bohr and Wheeler discussed many other features: whether other nuclei can fission, the competition between fission and other possible fates of the compound nucleus, the fate of the fission fragments, the possibility of instantaneous neutron emission accompanying fission, etc. The work with Wheeler was the last major novel contribution to physics by Bohr [emphasis ours]” (Pais, Niels Bohr’s Times, p. 458). “Though it would be refined further, the theory of Bohr and Wheeler was accepted, and continued to remain ever since, as the standard description of the mechanism of nuclear fission” (Mehra & Rechenberg, The Historical Development of Quantum Theory, 6, p. 1006).

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Last Found On: 2014-10-02           Check availability:      Biblio    


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