Lise Meitner's fantastic explanation: nuclear fission

February 14, 2012, 7:00AMANS Nuclear CafePaul Bowersox

On February 11, 1939, a Letter to the Editor titled "Disintegration of Uranium by Neutrons: a New Type of Nuclear Reaction" appeared in the science journal Nature. The letter provided the first theoretical explanation for the splitting of the atom, and coined a new term in physics: fission. The woman who co-authored the letter, and co-discovered the power of nuclear energy, is perhaps not quite as well-known as some of her contemporaries. Elise Meitner-how could hers not be a household name?

Lord Rutherford and the Atomic Pudding

May 31, 2011, 3:00PMANS Nuclear CafePaul Bowersox

Today is the 100th anniversary of the publishing of Ernest Rutherford's revolutionary article, "The Scattering of α and β Particles by Matter and the Structure of the Atom," which appeared in Philosophical Magazine (Series 6 21: 669-688). In the article, Rutherford explained his astonishing and profound discovery that atoms consist of a small and dense nucleus surrounded by electrons.