The Discovery and Development of Nuclear Technology
Man has always been interested in how the world around him works. He wondered about the structure of matter,of which his world, as well as our world, is made up. Countless scientists have been pondering that same question ever since the beginning of time. In this paper you will read about just a few of the men and women that broke the ground for the nuclear technology of today.
One of the first people to do this was a Greek philosopher named Anaxagoras in five hundred years before Christ. He questioned what would happen if he cut in half a sample of matter, gold in his case, and then half the halves and continue doing this. Anaxagoras’ theory stated that it would be possible to continue the process of halving for infinity.
A different Greek, Democritus, disagreed with Anaxagoras and said that there is a point that the gold can no longer be cut in half any smaller. Democritus said that when this occurs, all that is left are tiny particles that were unchangeable and indestructible because there is no power present in the universe that was great enough to destroy or change these particles. He named these tiny particles, which are the building blocks of matter, atoms after the Greek word a-tomos which means not cuttable. Democritus met with some agreement, albeit three hundred years later, from a Roman poet Lucretius who wrote a six volume work of verse entitled "De Rerum Natura." In his work, which literally translates to "The Nature of Things," Lucretius uses the example of animals looking similar to their offspring in order to explain that the atom was unchangeable and indestructible. One person who did not agree with him was Aristotle, a man so respected in the field of philosophy that no one attempted to contest his idea for nearly two thousand years.
It was not until the renaissance that the ideas of Aristotle began to be disputed and people started to accept the atomic theory of Democritus. One of the first people to speak out against Aristotle was Francis Bacon. Bacon criticized the scientific thought of the ancients because it relied too heavily on the philosophy behind things rather than experimental aspect of them. He did, however, side with Democritus because the minute experimentation pointed in that direction. Another key figure in the advancement of early atomic theory was Robert Boyle. Boyle ran experiments with gasses in pumps and he studied the behavior of the volumes of the gasses as pressure was applied or taken away from it. He observed that when a great pressure is applied, the volume of the gas decreases. From these experiments he concluded that the gasses must be made up of small particle with a somewhat large space in between them. Those particles were thought to be atoms. Another great mind, Issac Newton, heard about Boyle’s experiments, reviewed the observations, and supported Boyle’s theory. After years...