14 votes

Why did it take an army of physicists, working on a huge complex, so long to produce a working nuclear device, while it seems so easy in theory?

One of the big issues was isotope separation. Extracting uranium 235 from uranite was a huge problem that took quite an effort to overcome. In fact, just before the war started Niels Bohr believed ...
José Carlos Santos's user avatar
11 votes

Why did it take an army of physicists, working on a huge complex, so long to produce a working nuclear device, while it seems so easy in theory?

(1) Weapon-grade uranium is hard to make - it took almost a year to separate 64 kg of weapon-grade uranium for the bomb in the Y-12 Oak Ridge facility, so "Little boy" bomb was not even tested (they ...
Peter M. - stands for Monica's user avatar
8 votes
Accepted

"Nuclear fusion is 30 years away" since when?

Although one can find claims that this joke goes back to the 1960s, the joke only really started to bite after the first 30 years of fusion research had passed and we seemed no closer to the goal. ...
David Bailey's user avatar
  • 1,222
8 votes

Why did it take an army of physicists, working on a huge complex, so long to produce a working nuclear device, while it seems so easy in theory?

You should do some preliminary research before asking such a question. It was not so easy, even in theory. They did not know anything about Plutonium when they started, it simply did not exist. They ...
Alexandre Eremenko's user avatar
8 votes

To what extent were the scientists involved in the Manhattan project aware of the goals?

The sources are abundant and easy to find, for example Leslie Groves, Now it can be told. A history of Manhattan project (written by a project leader from the military side), Robert Jungk, Brighter ...
Alexandre Eremenko's user avatar
7 votes

Why didn't Germany succeed in building a nuclear bomb in second world war?

On my opinion, there are two important reasons: a) German government did not press the matter. Nobody convinced it that the thing is plausible and important. (In the US there was a lobby who could ...
Alexandre Eremenko's user avatar
7 votes
Accepted

Wasn't Feynman's parton model the same as the quark model?

Wasn't his parton model simply the same as the quark model? Didn't he [Feynman] "just" put some flesh on the skeletal concept of quarks present inside hadrons? Not at all! Before the ...
Cosmas Zachos's user avatar
7 votes

What new physics was discovered or needed as a result of the Manhattan Project?

A side note first - when dealing with non-physicists, they will generally regard quantum mechanics as the end-all-be-all of physics, the coolest weirdest stuff. So, it is not surprising that your ...
Jon Custer's user avatar
  • 1,197
7 votes

Who popularized the atom icon (atomic whirl or planetary model)

Prompted by some strange answers from chatGPT, I googled "atomic energy artists 1940s", which led me via a Pinterest collection of images to Herbert Bayer. Hebert Bayer provided an image for ...
Karsten Theis's user avatar
6 votes

From a historical perspective why is beta decay associated with an anti neutrino instead of a neutrino?

Only after the neutrino's discovery did we come up with the concept of lepton number (based on the unexpected multiple lepton families), which warranted reclassifying "that other thing emitted in beta ...
J.G.'s user avatar
  • 1,720
5 votes

Why did it take an army of physicists, working on a huge complex, so long to produce a working nuclear device, while it seems so easy in theory?

I can only recommend R. Rhodes, The Making of the Atomic Bomb once more and very strongly. It is also instructive to note that although Leo Szilard [sp] was inspired to understand and fight for the ...
Elliot's user avatar
  • 51
5 votes
Accepted

Before the discovery of the neutron, how did scientists explain standard atomic weights?

Historically, the discovery of naturally-occurring isotopes of chemical elements by means of the mass-spectrograph provided a correct explanation for the fractional character of the experimentally-...
terry-s's user avatar
  • 4,375
5 votes
Accepted

Why is it said that Marie Curie died due to her work but the same isn't said for Fermi?

Is it simply that the causation between the work and the disease is more clear in the case of Curie but not Fermi? Marie Curie died of Aplastic anemia which was most likely due to exposure to ...
SBoZon's user avatar
  • 441
4 votes

To what extent were the scientists involved in the Manhattan project aware of the goals?

The website http://manhattanprojectvoices.org is full of interviews with participants in the Manhattan project. Some interviews address exactly the question asked here. For example, here are two ...
Dan Fox's user avatar
  • 384
4 votes

To what extent were the scientists involved in the Manhattan project aware of the goals?

New scientific and engineering personal arriving at Los Alamos were given a series of lectures about the project, the relevant physics and the proposed designs of the weapons. These were later ...
simplicio's user avatar
  • 604
4 votes

What is the history of the use of the word daughter for a decay product in nuclear physics?

According to Wikipedia, a decay product is also referred to as a daughter product, a daughter isotope, radio-daughter or daughter nuclide. The term possibly arose from cell biology where it is common ...
Mozibur Ullah's user avatar
4 votes
Accepted

When was it first noticed, or demonstrated, that radioactive material became warm?

I found the following at an AIP site on Marie Curie, apparently a copy of an article of hers in Century Magazine, pp 461-466 (January 1904). It appears to be a non-technical journal: Radium ...
Jon Custer's user avatar
  • 1,197
4 votes
Accepted

Did anything significant happened in 1960s that involve neutron?

Google Ngrams are based on searching mentions in book hits from the corresponding time period. By looking at the titles and contexts where the word is mentioned one can usually figure out what the ...
Conifold's user avatar
  • 75.1k
4 votes

Who popularized the atom icon (atomic whirl or planetary model)

I'm adding this as an extended comment, taking advantage of the answer modality. It changes the subject a little, since the "atomic" fib is the 500lb gorilla in the room: The electron ...
Cosmas Zachos's user avatar
3 votes
Accepted

What was known about the properties of the nucleus before the Liquid drop model was proposed?

Sizes and masses were roughly known since Rutherford's 1911 experiments. Gamow references some more precise measurements from 1920s in Mass Defect Curve and Nuclear Constitution. For example, size ...
Conifold's user avatar
  • 75.1k
3 votes

Did any famous physicists think nuclear weapons were impossible?

I've never heard of a physicist denying the possibility of building atomic weapons. The closest thing that I am aware of is Werner Heisenberg's statement “I don't believe a word of the whole thing,” ...
José Carlos Santos's user avatar
3 votes
Accepted

When Kervran suggested biological transmutation of elements did anyone argue this

For a somewhat biased but nevertheless informative review of biological transmutation, see Jean-Paul Biberian's 2012 review: "Biological Transmutations: Historical Perspective". (Biberian is ...
David Bailey's user avatar
  • 1,222
2 votes
Accepted

Lise Meitner's contribution to this experimental apparatus and research effort?

The above photo was reproduced in the biography: Lise Meitner, A life in Physics, by Ruth Lewin Sime; University Of California Press,1996, ISBN 0-520-20860-9. A brief description of the parts is given ...
Carmine D'Agosto's user avatar
2 votes

Why didn't Germany succeed in building a nuclear bomb in second world war?

By accident I stumbled upon a recent article about the topic in a german science journal: http://www.spektrum.de/magazin/warum-es-hitlers-atombombe-nie-gab/1427403 It is based on a the following ...
asmaier's user avatar
  • 241
2 votes

What was the boat-carried nuclear bomb envisaged by the Einstein–Szilárd letter?

I think it's pretty obvious (at least in hindsight and having read Richard Rhode's excellent history ) that they simply didn't know the total mass (fissile plus compression explosives plus shell) of ...
Carl Witthoft's user avatar
1 vote

What was known about the properties of the nucleus before the Liquid drop model was proposed?

What was known about the properties of the nucleus (its shape, its density etc) and the nuclear forces before the Liquid drop model was proposed? In 1897 Thomson discovered the negatively charged ...
Mozibur Ullah's user avatar

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