Feeds

Royal Society unearths top secret nuclear research

Only 66 years late

Build a business case: developing custom apps

75 years of the neutron In his long-awaited energy white paper, published this May, Tony Blair opined that energy could be "as important to our future as defence".

According to secret documents, sealed during World War II, and unearthed by the Royal Society this year, it was ever so.

The papers have lain forgotten on a shelf in the Royal Society's archives since 1941, only to be unsealed this week to coincide with the 75th anniversary of James Chadwick's discovery of the neutron.

James Chadwick. Image credit: Godfrey Argent Studio

James Chadwick. Image credit: Godfrey Argent Studio

The sealed documents are scientific papers written by two physicists working in France in the late 1930s. They describe fundamental research into moderating the chain reaction in Uranium: research that was made possible in the first place by Chadwick's Nobel prize-winning discovery, and that paved the way for both nuclear reactors and the atomic bomb.

Keith Moore, head of the Royal Society's library and archives, describes the work as being on "the cutting edge" of nuclear energy research at the time.

He told us the papers were found by chance when someone noticed a 1940s style archive box gathering dust. When they opened it there was a letter signed by Chadwick attached to a series of envelopes sealed with red wax.

"We find old boxes like this quite often, but really the contents are usually pretty dull", Moore told us. "But we saw the Royal Society seals and realised we had something a bit unusual."

Piecing together the history, Moore says the two scientists, Hans von Halban (yes, he was actually German) and Lew Kowarski, most likely saw the writing on the wall in France. They moved themselves, their research, and their supply of heavy water over to Blighty.

They smuggled the entire global supply of deuterium (heavy water) across the channel, landing in Falmouth. The 26 steel drums they brought with them were sent to Wormwood scrubs, and then on to Windsor Castle Library.

The scientists joined the Cavendish Laboratory team and sent the work they had done in France to the British government. Eventually, the pair joined Tube Alloys, the British end of the Manhattan project based in Montreal.

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
Boffins attempt to prove the UNIVERSE IS JUST A HOLOGRAM
Is this the real life? Is this just fantasy?
Our LOHAN spaceplane ballocket Kickstarter climbs through £8000
Through 25 per cent but more is needed: Get your UNIQUE rewards!
China building SUPERSONIC SUBMARINE that travels in a BUBBLE
Shanghai to San Fran in two hours would be a trick, though
LOHAN tunes into ultra long range radio
And verily, Vultures shall speak status unto distant receivers
SpaceX prototype rocket EXPLODES over Texas. 'Tricky' biz, says Elon Musk
No injuries or near injuries. Flight stayed in designated area
Galileo, Galileo! Galileo, Galileo! Galileo fit to go. Magnifico
I'm just a poor boy, nobody loves me. But at least I can find my way with ESA GPS by 2017
EOS, Lockheed to track space junk from Oz
WA facility gets laser-eyes out of the fog
prev story

Whitepapers

Top 10 endpoint backup mistakes
Avoid the ten endpoint backup mistakes to ensure that your critical corporate data is protected and end user productivity is improved.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Backing up distributed data
Eliminating the redundant use of bandwidth and storage capacity and application consolidation in the modern data center.
The essential guide to IT transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIOs automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise
Next gen security for virtualised datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.