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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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Beta Decay Redux, Slow Neutrons, Bohr and his Realm

Beta Decay Redux, Slow Neutrons, Bohr and his Realm

(p.310) 12 Beta Decay Redux, Slow Neutrons, Bohr and his Realm
The Age of Innocence

Roger H. Stuewer

Oxford University Press

A large conference on nuclear physics was held in London and Cambridge from October 1–6, 1934. Six German refugee physicists were present, but Werner Heisenberg was not. Czech theoretical physicists Guido Beck and Kurt Sitte had proposed a theory of beta decay that challenged Fermi’s, which Beck presented but apparently gained no support for. On October 22, Fermi serendipitously discovered the efficaciousness of slow neutrons in producing nuclear reactions. Niels Bohr would be the greatest beneficiary of Fermi’s discovery. In 1935 Bohr, with the assistance of refugee Otto Robert Frisch, began to develop experimental nuclear physics at his institute, which after its inauguration in 1920 became a mecca for young physicists. On September 29, 1943, Bohr and his family were among the 7220 Danish and other Jews who were transported to Sweden in the greatest mass rescue operation of the war.

Keywords:   1934 London–Cambridge conference, Beck–Sitte beta-decay theory, Fermi beta-decay theory, efficacy of slow neutrons, Christian Bohr death, Bohr Institute, Danish rescue of Jews

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