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Early fission device

  1. Mar 24, 2014 #1

    Hello everyone. According to Wikipedia, this is a photograph of the experimental apparatus with which Otto Hahn and Fritz Strassmann discovered nuclear fission in 1938. Unfortunately this is not enough information for me. I was just wondering if anyone could possibly take the time to explain to me exactly what is, what it does, and if it is possible to recreate one for a project (purely as a hobby, not school related at all). Thanks for your time!
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 24, 2014 #2


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    It's not a device, but a table with experimental apparatus placed on it. It's the equipment used by H and S to bombard uranium with neutrons. This was a continuation of experiments performed earlier by Fermi who bombarded several different substances with neutrons and discovered artificial radioactivity. H and S were attempting to make elements with atomic numbers greater than 92 by bombarding uranium with neutrons, but instead or making heavier elements, their experiments split the uranium atom.

    This is a broad strokes description of the experiment:



    Basically, you would need samples of natural uranium (which hasn't had the U-235 isotope separated) and radium and beryllium, two substances which are expensive (radium) and dangerous to handle (both). H and S used Geiger counters specially built to detect radiation during the experiment and used a fair amount of chemistry to identify the fission product. H and S did not understand what was going on with their experiment until after Lise Meitner reviewed the experimental findings and told them they had split the uranium atom instead of creating trans-uranic elements.
    Last edited: Mar 24, 2014
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