Foggy Bottom in Washington, District of Columbia — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)
Announcement of the Atomic Age
On this campus, January 26, 1939, Nobel Laureate Niels Bohr reported the splitting of the uranium nucleus with the release of two hundred million electron volts of energy, thus heralding the beginning of the atomic age. This announcement took place in the Hall of Government, Room 209, at the Fifth Washington Conference on Theoretical Physics organized by GWU Professors George Gamow and Edward Teller and jointly sponsored by the Carnegie Institution and the George Washington University.
Although the subject of the Fifth Conference was low-temperature physics and superconductivity, the importance of such a revolutionary event could not be ignored. Bohr said that his colleagues, Otto Robert Frisch and Lise Meitner in Copenhagen experimentally verified a suggestion of Otto Hahn and Fritz Strassmann. Nuclear fission by the bombardment of uranium and neutrons had been observed. From his work on the structure and excitation of nuclei, Bohr realized that a neutron-induced chain reaction of uranium-235 was possible. Physicist Leo Szilard at Columbia University had come to the same conclusion.
Being concerned about developments in Germany, Szilard pressed Bohr and his physics colleagues into secrecy and helped convince Albert Einstein to write President Roosevelt of the danger implied and the necessity for action. Bohr and
Erected 2002 by The George Washington University.
Location. 38° 53.943′ N, 77° 2.791′ W. Marker is in Foggy Bottom, District of Columbia, in Washington. Marker is on 21st Street, NW south of H Street, NW, on the left when traveling south. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Washington DC 20037, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Edward Teller (here, next to this marker); George Gamow (within shouting distance of this marker); GW's River Horse (within shouting distance of this marker); Ingrid Bergman (within shouting distance of this marker); George Washington (within shouting distance of this marker); Pembroke College, Oxford, Coat of Arms (about 500 feet away, measured in a direct line); Marquis de Lafayette Hall (about 600 feet away); The United Church/Die Vereinigte Kirche (about 600 feet away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Foggy Bottom.
Additional keywords. "Niels Henrik David Bohr"; Danish
Categories. • 20th Century • Education • Science & Medicine • War, World II •
Credits. This page was last revised on October 16, 2017. This page originally submitted on September 18, 2011, by Richard E. Miller of Oxon Hill, Maryland. This page has been viewed 520 times since then and 35 times this year. Photos: 1, 2. submitted on September 18, 2011, by Richard E. Miller of Oxon Hill, Maryland. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page.