her physicist nephew Otto Frisch, who came over from Denmark to visit her, it becameclear that the unexpected barium was a marker for a new species of nuclear reaction,that in fact their neutrons had split uranium nuclei into two nearly equal pieces, one of barium and one of krypton, and that the new reaction was fiercely exothermic, tenmillion times as much energy coming out as the neutrons carried in. Physicists hadknown for forty years that enormous energy was locked up in the atom. Here at lastwas a way to release it. Otto Hahn brooded on the probable military applications of hisdiscovery and seriously considered suicide.Word spread quickly in the small world community of physicists. Hahn andStrassmann published their results in the German science journal
.Frisch and Meitner told Niels Bohr, the great Danish physicist, and followed up withconfirming physical experiments published in the British journal
, borrowingfrom biology a name for the new reaction. Bohr brought the news to America. Sovietphysicists working in Leningrad under young Igor Kurchatov, British physicists,German physicists, the French team at the Radium Institute in Paris, Americanexperimenters from coast to coast rushed to demonstrate fission in their laboratorieswith offtheshelf equipment; the discovery, as the physicist Philip Morrison would saymuch later, was "overripe."
A Japanese Army lieutenant general who was an electricalengineer assigned a member of his staff to track it. If Hahn and Strassmann hadn'tdiscovered nuclear fission in Germany, others would have discovered it in some otherlaboratory somewhere else. Here was no Faustian bargain, as some even all these years