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Alec Dyer, Jerry Huang, Larry Hiller

Abstract The discovery of the neutron started modern day nuclear physics because of their ability to impact atoms without being affected by their electrical charge. A series of experiments less than 5 years prior culminated to the final discovery. In 1930, Victor Amabartsumian and Dimitri Ivanenko proved that there must be some neutral particle in the nucleus. In 1931, Walther Bothe and Herbert Becker discovered a process of creating a potent radiation that penetrated unusually deep by radiating certain elements with alpha particles. In 1932, physicists by the name of Irene Curie and Frederic Joliot used this process on paraffin and found that it often knocked away protons. They attributed this behavior to something similar to the Compton Effect, where gamma rays can knock off electrons. Then Chadwick, under the supervision of famous physicist Ernest Rutherford, redid this experiment and claimed the discovery of the neutron. He was awarded the Nobel prize. (2) I. Explaining basic idea and how this differs from previous concepts of physics : a. The atom used to be thought of as a unified mass of electrons and protons which included protons and electrons like raisins stuck on the surface of a lump of pudding (1). The periodic table was initially designed using the atomic mass rather than the atomic number, but this became problematic for some elements as the source of the atomic mass was not exactly defined. II. Historical Evidence that brought idea into common acceptance: a. In 1930, Bothe and Becker observed that bombardment of beryllium with alpha particles from a radioactive source produced neutral radiation which was penetrating but non-ionizing. They presumed it was gamma rays, but Curie and Joliot showed that when you bombarded a paraffin target with this radiation, it ejected protons with energy about 5.3 MeV. This proved to be inconsistent with gamma rays. #show equations on how gamma ray hypothesis is inconsistent ----> (5)# That meant the neutral radiation must come from some sort of neutral particle. III. Modern Day technological application a. Neutrons play a large role in the radioactivity properties of atoms. Isotopes of different atoms usually contain a different number of neutrons. Neutrons have properties that are helpful in research. Because of their unique sensitivity to hydrogen, they can be used to precisely locate hydrogen atoms, enabling a better determination of molecular structure. This is helpful for designing new therapeutic drugs. #A diagram of one of the following processes would be interesting and helpful here# Neutrons can also be used to track molecular vibrations, movements of atoms during catalytic reactions, and changes in the behavior of materials subjected to outside forces, such as rising temperature, pressure, or magnetic field strength. (6)
(1) http://nobeliefs.com/atom.htm (2) http://www.chemcases.com/nuclear/nc-01.html (3) http://www-outreach.phy.cam.ac.uk/camphy/neutron/neutron2_1.htm (very thorough) (4) wiki: neutrons. (Used throughout) (5) http://hyperphysics.phy-astr.gsu.edu/hbase/particles/neutrondis.html (6) http://neutrons.ornl.gov/why/about-neutrons.shtml