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In the 1930s some scientists theorized that bombarding an atoms nucleus with a neutron from another atom would cause the first atom to split in two The splitting atom would release another neutron which would then strike a neighboring atom causing it to split and so on It was thought that each splitting atom would release a tiny spark of energy In a nuclear chain reaction trillions of atoms would split in less than a millionth of a second thereby giving forth an awesome burst of power This process of deriving energy through a chain reaction is called nuclear fission One of the leading scientists interested in nuclear fission was Leo Szilard The gifted physicist was born in Hungary and educated at German universities While visiting London in 1933 Szilard was struck with a monumental idea What if he could find an element that would emit two neutrons each time it was bombarded by one neutron He later wrote Such an element could surly sustain a nuclear chain reaction While Szilard worked to advance his idea Adolf Hitler and the Nazi party took over Germany Under Hitlers control Germany started building tanks military airplanes and bombs At the time German scientists led the world in nuclear physics Szilard feared that the Nazis could develop an atomic bomb and become powerful enough to rule the world Sensing that war would break out in Europe Szilard moved to the United States in 1938 Shortly after he moved German scientists shocked the world by announcing that they had split uranium atoms by bombarding them with neutrons For the first time in history the atom had been smashed through man-made means One day in July 1939 Szilard and Edward Teller another Hungarian born physicist who studied in Germany went to the home of Albert Einstein They told Einstein that they believed Germany would soon be able to make an atom bomb Szilard and Teller felt that that
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