Timeline of Nuclear Science

Milestones & More

Uranium is Discovered by Martin Klaproth


Henri Bacquel Discovers Effects of Radiation


Henri Bacquel discovered that radiation given off from Radium and Uranium caused photographic plates to darken

Marie and Pierre Curie Discover Radium


Samuel Prescott Discovers Bacteria Destruction via Radiation


Samuel Prescott had discovered that radiation from Radium destroyed bacteria commonly found in canned goods

Ernest Rutherford's "Theory of Atomic Disintegration"


Ernest Rutherford theorizes that elements can spontaneously be converted to other elements through radiation

Albert Einstein's "Theory of Relativity"


"Special Relativity" became a topic commonly associated with nuclear science and was used as a base for many experiments in the future

Frederick Soddy Discovers Radioactive Isotopes


George de Hevesy Discovers Radioactive Tracers


George de Hevesy found that radiation could be used as a tracer due to the light it gives off under certain devices. He used these to study chemical processes

Ernest Rutherford's Element Conversion


By firing alpha particles from Radium into Nitrogen, Rutherford converted Nitrogen into Oxygen through nuclear reaction

James Chadwick Discovers the Neutron


The neutron is important in nuclear reactions as it bonds to protons in nuclear reactions causing heavier elements able to be produced

Cockcroft and Walton Team Split the Atom


Splitting of Lithium nuclei produced Helium nuclei. The experiment was verification to previous experiments done in transmuting elements.

Irene Curie and Frederic Joliot Discover Artificial Radionuclides


A Radionuclide is an atom with an unstable nucleus. All of the heaviest elements exist only in the form of man-made Radionuclides

Enrico Fermi Discovers the Neutron's Use in Artificial Elements


The neutron was discovered to be much more useful in creating Radionuclides as it made a much larger range of them

Nuclear Fission is Discovered and Researched


Nuclear Fission, the splitting of atoms into lighter elements, was discovered and researched by Lise Meitner, Otto Frisch, Niels Bohr, Otto Hahn and Fritz Stassman.

Otto Frisch Creates an Atomic Explosion


The explosion was caused by Fission, validating previous research

US "Manhattan Project"

1939 - 1945

A massive nuclear weapons project

Albert Einstein Warns the US of Nuclear Nazi Projects


Albert Einstein wrote to US President Franklin Roosevelt to warn him about the Nazi efforts to create nuclear weapons from purified Uranium.

Enrico Fermi Achieves the First Nuclear Chain Reaction with Uranium


Igor Kurchatov Heads the USSR's New Nuclear Weapons Program


The First US Nuclear Weapon is Tested in Almagordo, New Mexico


Nuclear Bombs Dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki


The immense damage caused by the two bombs sparked the surrender of the Japanese in WWII and began a new era of fear in weapon development after over 200,000 people die

Atomic Energy Act of 1946


US President Harry Truman allows Nuclear Power to be used by the public

First Civilian Use of Nuclear Power in the US


The U.S. Army's Oak Ridge facility in Tennessee ships the first nuclear-reactor-produced radioisotopes for peacetime civilian use to Brainard Cancer Hospital in St. Louis

Cold War

1947 - 1991

A huge nuclear arms race between the USSR and US

Plans of Commercialization


The University of Chicago and the Westinghouse Corporation’s Bettis Atomic Power Laboratory in Pittsburgh plan to allow consumer use in the form of electricity

First Usable Electricity is Produced via Nuclear Activity


Experimental Breeder Reactor 1 in the Idaho National Engineering and Environmental Laboratory produces the first usable amount of electricity

Atoms for Peace Program


US President Dwight Eisenhower proposed the Atoms for Peace program planning to make nuclear energy peaceful

Atomic Energy Act of 1954


An amendment to the Atomic Energy Act of 1946 allowing private companies to oversee their own plants

Mass Production of Nuclear Plants in the US


Borax III Produces Enough to Power a City of 1,000


Nuclear reactor in Idaho

International Atomic Agency Forms


International Atomic Energy Agency is formed to promote the idea of peaceful nuclear power

Nuclear Power is Recognized as a Reliable Alternative


Large scale power outs in the Northeast US cause Nuclear Reactors to start providing large amounts of power, causing them to be recognized as a great alternative

Cancer and Explosions Become Extremely Prevalent

1970 - 1990

"The Worst Accident in Nuclear History"


In Chernobyl, Ukraine, a massive nuclear meltdown caused massive fires spreading radioactive waste through the air. Over 750,000 people were poisoned while 30 operators were killed on site.

Modern Uses


Today, nuclear mechanics are everywhere. Lights, signals and even the sun are all forms of radiation in frequency. X-Ray machines, nuclear medicines and radiation therapies are all huge parts of the medical field. Chemotherapy is treatment for cancer patients via nuclear radiation. Moisture, thickness and volume are all factors manufacturers taken into mind when manufacturing; radioactive materials help measure it. Many lights today in public and military use involve radioactive materials such as neon or tritium. Radon is a common paint ingredient. Nuclear radiation is used in agriculture to increase the lifespan of plants and kill invading insects. Archeologists use carbon dating to estimate what age a certain item is by identifying the amount of decay that a certain material has radiated. Even common household appliances such as smoke detectors use nuclear mechanics in them. Nuclear weapons are still produced and materials derived from radioactive materials are used for vehicles and gear for the military. Over a thousand nuclear power plants are active around the world.