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5 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An Impressive Breakthrough, April 9, 2000
This review is from: The Neutron and the Bomb: A Biography of Sir James Chadwick (Hardcover)
In order to become more well-rounded in his studies of physics, Chadwick went to Germany before the outbreak of the first world war and was locked up as an enemy of the Germans when the war came. The total breakdown in the existing order of things might help explain why the British were so keen on finding the subatomic particle structure of matter. The previous discovery of the mass and charge of an electron and experiments with radium, which naturally decays, had indicated that atoms might be capable of being broken into smaller parts. The discovery of the neutron in 1932 paved the way for experiments in chain reactions in which neutrons, which were the products of splitting atoms, were used to split other atoms. The powers which have had uses for this knowledge have been so quick to put it to use that it is still considered a great secret from anyone that isn't a member in good standing of their club. This book may be read as a description of the life of a man who was a member of the club before anyone knew that there was a club. About the earliest sign in the book that some kind of club was being formed was when Chadwick obtained some German radioactive toothpaste, for people who need to have teeth that glow in the dark, and tried to figure out what was in it during World War One.
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