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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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Nuclear Physicists at the Crossroads

Nuclear Physicists at the Crossroads

(p.216) 9 Nuclear Physicists at the Crossroads
The Age of Innocence

Roger H. Stuewer

Oxford University Press

The Nazi Civil Service Law of April 7, 1933, prompted the establishment of refugee organizations to cope with the greatest intellectual migration in history, a difficult task in the Great Depression. It was in full swing in October when the seventh Solvay Conference was convened to address fundamental questions in nuclear physics. Foremost was the exact value of the mass of the neutron. Chadwick, Curie and Joliot, and Lawrence advanced very different values, and Lawrence soon had to admit that his very low value was mistaken. In January 1934, Fermi published his far-reaching theory of beta decay, which assumed that an electron and a neutrino are created when a neutron in the nucleus is transformed into a proton, which obviated the need to assume that electrons are present in nuclei. In August 1934, Chadwick and Goldhaber proved experimentally that the neutron is an unstable elementary particle.

Keywords:   Nazi Civil Service Law, refugee organizations, Great Depression, seventh Solvay Conference, neutron mass, Fermi beta-decay theory, nuclear electrons, neutron elementary particle

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