By Richard Hammond
Born in China in 1912, Chien-shiung Wu got here to the us to check physics on the college of California at Berkeley. Madame Wu, as she was once known as, used to be essentially the most uncommon girls physicists of her time, and served because the first woman president of the yank actual Society within the Nineteen Seventies.
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Extra resources for Chien-Shiung Wu: Pioneering Nuclear Physicist (Makers of Modern Science)
Another important particle to Wu was one of the mesons, the K meson (kaon), which played an important role in her future. 45 46 Chien-shiung Wu In beta decay, the nucleus emits an electron. To Wu, it was not enough to do an experiment carefully; if other people were getting different results, she felt it was important to explain why they were getting the wrong result. She believed that the radioactive sources that others were using were too thick and that many of the electrons, after being emitted in the beta decay process, would ricochet from other atoms, losing their energy as they did.
It is the so-called dream come true for the age-old alchemists who tried so hard to change lead into gold. But, to make plutonium, physicists did not use potions and chants read from some obscure book of spells; they used the cyclotron. While uranium has 92 protons in the nucleus, plutonium has 94. At Berkeley, Lawrence and others were able to create plutonium by bombarding uranium with deuterons, particles that contain one proton and one neutron. It is a long and tedious process, but the prize was a highly fissionable material, a material that was believed would create a chain reaction.
After that, other laboratories around the world learned how to make thin films of the radioactive materials and verified her results. As noted above, Wu was not satisfied to do an experiment carefully. She preferred to show why others had obtained the wrong answer. To verify that her hypothesis about the thick sources was correct, Wu actually made thick sources and measured the energy spectrum to show explicitly how the results varied. ” There remained some doubts, so Wu solved the problem. After the War 49 This example illustrates some of the characteristics that made Wu such an exemplary experimental physicist.