Saturday, September 12, 2009

Splitting atoms

The first steps towards unleashing the power within the atomic nucleus began in 1905 when Albert Einstein established that even tiny quantities of mass are equivalent to immense amounts of energy, through his equation E=mc2. In 1938, Germans Otto Hahn and Fritz Strassman split inherently unstable uranium atoms by bombarding them with neutrons. The following year, Lise Meitner and Otto Frisch elucidated this process of nuclear fission, in which atomic nuclei are split to create nuclei of lighter elements, with neutrons and energy as by-products.

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