London: Macmillan & Sons, 1934. 1st Edition. JOURNAL ISSUE, FIRST ANNOUNCEMENT IN ENGLISH BY FERMI OF RADIOACTIVITY INDUCED BY SLOW NEUTRONS. The letter marks the beginning of Fermi's experimental researches in nuclear physics. In 1938 Fermi was awarded "for his demonstrations of the existence of new radioactive elements produced by neutron irradiation, and for his related discovery of nuclear reactions brought about by slow neutrons."
When news reached Fermi "of the Joliot-Curies' discovery of new radioactive isotopes, which were produced by the bombardment of light elements with particles, it occurred to Fermi that neutrons would be useful projectiles because they are not repelled by the electric charge of the nucleus and should be able to enter even the heaviest nuclei" (Brandi, The Harvest of the Century, 239).
“In March, Fermi demonstrated that neutrons were the most effective inducers of radioactivity in elements heavier than phosphorus. The finding enhanced the Italian physicist’s fame as that rare scientist equally adept at theory and experimentation, for it validated his own hypothesis that the chargeless neutron could penetrate heavy nuclei that repelled deuterons and other heavy, but charged, projectiles. His discovery also underscored the cyclotron’s utility as a prodigious manufacturer of protons, deuterons, and neutrons (which were generated by training the deuteron beam on a neutron emitter such as beryllium)” (Hiltzik, Big Science, 128).
Fermi's letter [included here] confirms, extends, and documents the Joliot-Curie discovery. Item #1553
CONDITION & DETAILS: Fine condition, though the front wrap appears to be missing. No sign of removal from volume. Bright and very clean throughout.