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Greatest Discovery Ever Made

By Science N.Z. Press Association—Copyright Rec. 1 p.m. LONDON, Aug. 7. "I regard the discovery of how to use the energy set free by the splitting of the atom as the greatest ever made in the realm of physical science," said Sir John Anderson, former Chancellor of the Exchequer, in an interview with the Evening Standard. "It opens up tremendous possibilities. We have been able to harness this tremendous energy in a small bomb that is for use in war. The first thing now is to discover how we can harness it for beneficient purposes of peace. It will be a long job."

Sir John believes that the new discovery is of far greater importance than Faraday's discovery of electricity. The scientists solving how to harness the new force must first solve the problem of using this energy to generate heat. The amount of energy so far released by the atomic bomb was only a fraction of the amount theoretically possible for the present quantity of material dissipated.

"The equivalent of 20,000 tons of T.N.T. is the actual explosive force released in present conditions under which the bomb is set off. A door has been opened in world science and what may be on the other side is still to be seen. It may be a vast storehouse of beneficial power, or a limitless power of destruction. It depends on the wisdom of- the nations of the world." Four Years of Research Sir John Anderson for four years worked on atomic research under conditions of the greatest secrecy. He dealt with all the correspondence on progress of research himself. In the summer of 1943 he went to the United States and conferred with American statesmen and scientists. The need for secrecy was so great that he sometimes travelled under an assumed name. Lady Anderson was not allowed to communicate with him.

Professor Sir Alfred Egerton, a member of the War Cabinet Scientific Advisory Committee, said the atom was comparable to a small universe. Its force kept small worlds moving around a central nucleus. "We have found a way to interrupt this atomic motion. By doing so science has dispersed the energy. Scientists long thought that if we 'exploded' the atom it might set off others with endless destructive effect, but there are safeguards. What physicists have done is to alter the energy relationship of the atom which provides us with an enormous volume of power."

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Bibliographic details

NEW DOOR OPENED, Auckland Star, Volume LXXVI, Issue 186, 8 August 1945

Word Count

NEW DOOR OPENED Auckland Star, Volume LXXVI, Issue 186, 8 August 1945

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