Enrico Fermi’s Discovery of Neutron-Induced Artificial Radioactivity: Neutrons and Neutron Sources

Abstract.

We reconstruct and analyze the path leading from James Chadwick’s discovery of the neutron in February 1932 through Frédéric Joliot and Irène Curie’s discovery of artificial radioactivity in January 1934 to Enrico Fermi’s discovery of neutron-induced artificial radioactivity in March 1934. We show, in particular, that Fermi’s innovative construction and use of radon-beryllium neutron sources permitted him to make his discovery.

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Correspondence to Francesco Guerra.

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Guerra, F., Leone, M. & Robotti, N. Enrico Fermi’s Discovery of Neutron-Induced Artificial Radioactivity: Neutrons and Neutron Sources. Phys. perspect. 8, 255–281 (2006). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00016-006-0296-0

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Keywords.

  • Enrico Fermi
  • Orso Mario Corbino
  • Franco Rasetti
  • James Chadwick
  • Norman Feather
  • Ernest Rutherford
  • Frédéric Joliot
  • Irène Curie
  • Domus Galilaeana
  • artificial radioactivity
  • polonium-beryllium neutron source
  • radon-beryllium neutron source