HPS202 Scientists in Power

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History and Philosophy of Science and Technology
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HPS202 Tuesday, November 15, 2011 Scientists in Power beginnings of French nuclear program • • 1939-1940 • connections btwn scientific practice and politics • wartime: incentives and hindrances for scientific research • intro to main researchers in nuclear physics in France • Curie dynasty Radioactivity and the Curies • Henri Becquerel (1852-1908) • Marie Curie (1867-1934) • Pierre Curie (1859-1906) • relation to x-ray? fluorescence? mass/charge? • discovery of radioactivity • Nobel Prize in physics, 1903 radioactivity, central for knowledge about constitution of matter • • Curies defined research field • Marie: Nobel Prize in chemistry, 1911, study of properties of radium and polonium Irene Curie (1897-1956) • • Frederic Joliot (1900-1958) • interactions of radiation and matter • transmutation of chemical elements • discovery of artificial radioactivity • Nobel Prize in chemistry, 1935 Creation of Research Program • France, 1920s and 30s • debt, inflation, instability, radicalization • scientists in government • promotion of science • CNRS (Caisse Nationale de la Recherche Scientfique) • rise of German national socialism Fission • experiments of transmutation with heavy elements Otto Hahn and Lise Meitner (1938): fission of heavy element produces two lighter • elements and free energy HPS202 Tuesday, November 15, 2011 • Joliot, Halban and Kowarski • fission produces free neutrons, possible chain reaction fission potential uses in weapons • Research at College de France • design
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