Man has always been interested in how the world around him works. He wondered about the structure of matter,of which his world, as well as our world, is made up. Countless scientists have been pondering that same question ever since the beginning of time. In this paper you will read about just a few of the men and women that broke the ground for the nuclear technology of today.
One of the first people to do this was a Greek philosopher named Anaxagoras in five hundred years before Christ. He questioned what would happen if he cut in half a sample of matter, gold in his case, and then half the halves and continue doing this. Anaxagoras’ theory stated that it would be possible to continue the process of halving for infinity.
A different Greek, Democritus, disagreed with Anaxagoras and said that there is a point that the gold can no longer be cut in half any smaller. Democritus said that when this occurs, all that is left are tiny particles that were unchangeable and indestructible because there is no power present in the universe that was great enough to destroy or change these particles. He named these tiny particles, which are the building blocks of matter, atoms after the Greek word a-tomos which means not cuttable. Democritus met with some agreement, albeit three hundred years later, from a Roman poet Lucretius who wrote a six volume work of verse entitled "De Rerum Natura." In his work, which literally translates to "The Nature of Things," Lucretius uses the example of animals looking similar to their offspring in order to explain that the atom was unchangeable and indestructible. One person who did not agree with him was Aristotle, a man ...
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...means of atom smashing, and in 1932 Earnest Thomas Sinton Walton and John Douglas Cockcroft announced that they had created an artificial means of accelerating atoms to make possible the destruction of larger atoms. Now that it was possible to create this amount of energy it could be used to power homes and destroy entire cities.
Man tried to learn about how his world was structured and he succeeded. He discovered that the all matter is made up of atoms. And through years of hard work he was able to harness its energy for the use of man.
- Dietz, David. Atomic Science: Bombs and Power. Collier Books, New York, 1962
- Feinberg, J.G. The Story of Atomic Theory and Atomic Energy. Dover Publications
Inc., New York, 1960
- Graetzer, Hans. The Discovery of Nuclear Fission. Van Nostrand Reinhold Co., New
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