Chadwick and Meitner: Discoveries that changed the world 

Wednesday 23 October 2019, 17.30-18.30
Organised by the IOP History of Physics Group

From the discovery of the neutron (1932) to the first demonstration of controlled fission (1942) was just ten years; a period that took physics from an occupation of a small number of eccentric gentlemen and (even fewer) ladies to something of concern to, and funding decisions of, Governments all over the world. The shadows of those tumultuous years are still with us, for better or worse.

This talk will recount those ten years through the lives of James Chadwick (1891-1974) and Lise Meitner (1878-1968), contemporaries who played pivotal roles in the events, even though, partly because of their retiring personalities, they are often over-shadowed by "larger" figures.

Invited Speaker;

Professor Gerry Lander, Institut Laue Langevin, Grenoble, France.

The session will be hosted by Dr Vincent Smith, who is the Treasurer of the History of Physics Group. Dr Smith is active in many aspects of the Institute's work, he is currently the of Chair of the IOP South West Branch committee and has previously served on Council.

Dr Smith retired as Reader in Physics from Bristol University in 2011. He still retains an Honorary position as Senior Research Fellow, which allows him to make visits to CERN and take shifts as Shift Leader on the CMS experiment. He is also a trained CERN guide, and often welcomes school groups and others on guided visits. He also enjoys visiting schools for outreach talks on a number of physics topics.

About the IOP History of Physics Group

The group’s main aims are to research and present accounts of the ways in which the subject of physics has developed, and also of the lives and achievements of the men and women who orchestrated this development.  The group also explores ways in which historical developments can be used in the understanding, teaching and general communication of physics.

The main areas of interest are:

  • the history of physics discoveries, theories and concepts;
  • the history of experimentation and instruments;
  • the history of interactions between physics and society;
  • oral history and archives.

The group provides a forum where the different and somewhat fragmented disciplines of physics and related subjects are able to interact fruitfully. It pursues the study of the history of physics from the perspective of the physicist, and so its activities are of particular interest to physics practitioners, but it also encourages dialogue between physicists and professional historians of science.

The group organises several lecture meetings each year, of length between half a day and two days, many of them in collaboration with other groups of the Institute of Physics, and usually around a specific theme.  It also supports meetings organised by others when these are likely to be of interest to its members.

The group also produces regular substantial newsletters, which include written accounts of some of the talks from these meetings, other articles and book reviews on the history of physics, and group news. It has also published an e-book which arose out of one of its meetings.

The IOP Groups are at the heart of the physics community and enable you to take part in activities in your particular areas of interest, as well as share and receive expert advice on developments in your sector.


Key dates

Registration deadline:

11 October 2019