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Who Discovered Nuclear Energy?

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There were a number of scientists that have contributed to the discovery of nuclear energy. Albert Einstein’s famous equation, E=MC2, suggested the idea that you could get a huge amount of energy by splitting the mass of an object but there was simply no way to test it in a lab. In 1896, French scientist and physicist, Antoine Henri Becquerel accidentally discovered radioactivity when he was doing research on phosphorescence in uranium salt.

Antoine Henri BecquerelAntoine Henri Becquerel was born on December 15th, 1852 in Paris and died on August 25th, 1908 in Le Croisic.

He won a Nobel Prize

This discovery led him to win a Nobel Prize in Physics with Marie Curie and Pierre Curie in 1903. This discovery also led him to research on spontaneous emission of nuclear radiation, which was the foundation of modern nuclear energy. After five decades of research on radioactivity, the discovery of nuclear fission was finally made. James Chadwick, an English scientist discovered neutron in 1932 and won the Nobel Prize in 1935. His work would lay the foundation for making the atom bomb a reality. Enrico Fermi researched on uranium with neutrons in 1934 and said that his experiments created a new element, although people were doubtful about the authenticity of his experiments.

The nuclear chain reaction discovered

When his findings were published, three European physicist Fritz Strassmann , Lise Meitner and Otto Hahn began conducting similar experiments in Berlin where they managed to create barium from uranium using nuclear fission. The change of mass surprised the scientific society and they began to investigate the cause. A number of scientists, including Leó Szilárd, a Hungarian physicist, identified the release of additional neutron and thus discovered the process of the nuclear chain reaction.

Jean Frédéric Joliot & Irène Curie proved it can be done

In 1939, the possibility of such nuclear chain reaction was practically proved by Jean Frédéric Joliot and Irène Curie. Because World War 2 was just around the corner, many countries including the United States, Germany, France, the United Kingdom, and the former Soviet Union, realized the potentials of nuclear energy and began experimenting with it. The United States successfully tested the first nuclear bomb during the Trinity test and few weeks later, dropped 2 bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

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