Nuclear Science History

  • Discovery of x-rays

    W.C. Roetengen put a special gas in a tube and passed a high electric voltage through it. He found a previously unknown "invisible light" that passed through most substances casting a shadow of solid objects onto a piece of film.
  • Discovery of Elementary Particles

    The electron was first found in 1897 by J.J. Thompson, the nucleus was then found in 1911 by Ernest Rutherford, and finally the neutron was found in 1932. Finding all the parts of the atom gve us the basic structure of matter.
  • Discovery of Radiation

    The discovery was made by Marie and Pierre Curie. They found that 2 uranium ores, pitchblende, and charci=olite were more radioactive than uranium itself. They found polonium later. It was also published.
  • First Nuclear Reaction

    Ernest Rutherford bombarded nitrogen with alpha particles and got a product nuclei that was a rare oxygen isotope, in the process he identifed the lighter particles that were ejected as hyrdrogen nuclei or protons.
  • Manhattan Project

    FDR had authorized the Manhattan Engineering District to create an atomic bomb. The project was started because of the fear brought by the Nazi Germans were going to use nuclear weapons during WWII. Robert Oppenheimer and Leslie R. Groves were the directors. The recruited the best US scientists, engineers and mathmematicians.
  • First Nuclear Reactor

    A new reactor in the United States called the Graphite Reactor. It demonstrated that a reactor could produce plutonium in useful amounts.
  • Dropping of the Atomic Bomb

    The atomic bombs were kept in secret for years. The first one dropped was Little Boy on Aug 6, 1945. It was dropped on Hiroshima, it leveled 60% of the city and killed 70,000 residents. The second bomb dropped was Fat Man on Aug 6, 1945. It was dropped on Nagasaki and killed over 20,000 residents. Truman, the president at the time, had ok'ed bombing anytime after Aug 3, 1945. Many Japs had died weeks later from the radiation.
  • Creation of MRI

    The MRI was created by Pauk Lauterbur and Peter Mansfield. The first patient was Dr. Raymond Damadian but it didn't work because he was "too big". The first exam that worked was on a svelte graduate student on July 3, 1977 and it took almost five hours to produce one image.
  • Nuclear Non-Proliferation Act (NNPA)

    It was created to tighten the criteria for nuclear cooperation and reshape the nuclear fuel cycle. The US was supplying 90% of reactors in the western world.
  • TMI

    Three Mile Island Unit 2 in Middleton, PA was the most serious in US commercial Nuclear power plant operation malfunction. It released lots of radiations and there was no death or serious injuries at the time. The event changes emergency responce planning and reactor operator training. It also change how we deal with radiation protection and there are now enchanced safety precautions.
  • Chernoybyl

    Some of the operators disabled the automatic shut down mechanisms on a nuclear reactor in Ukraine before a test to determine how long the turbines would spin and supply power after a loss of main electrical power supply. There were two explosions. The accident caused the largest uncontrolled radioactive release into the enviroment ever recorded.