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For Slow Neutrons, Slow Pay: Enrico Fermi’s Patent and the US Atomic Energy Program, 1938-1953

Turchetti, Simone (2006) For Slow Neutrons, Slow Pay: Enrico Fermi’s Patent and the US Atomic Energy Program, 1938-1953. Isis, 97 (1). pp. 1-28. ISSN 0021-1753

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Abstract

This essay focuses on the history of one of the “atomic patents.” The patent, which described a process to slow down neutrons in nuclear reactions, was the result of experimental research conducted in the 1930s by Enrico Fermi and his group at the Institute of Physics, University of Rome. The value of the patented process became clear during World War II, as it was involved in most of the military and industrial applications of atomic energy. This ignited a controversy between Fermi and U.S. government representatives over royalties to be paid for use of the process during and after the war. The controversy sheds new light on the role that the management of patents played in the context of the Manhattan Project and in the postwar U.S. nuclear program, encompassing issues of power and economic influence in the relationship between scientists, the military, and public administrators.

Item Type: Article
Copyright, Publisher and Additional Information: © 2006 by The History of Science Society. Reproduced in accordance with the publisher's self-archiving policy.
Institution: The University of Leeds
Academic Units: The University of Leeds > Faculty of Arts (Leeds) > School of Humanities (Leeds) > School of Philosophy (Leeds) > Division of the History and Philosophy of Science (Leeds)
Depositing User: Dr. Simone Turchetti
Date Deposited: 04 Sep 2008 17:06
Last Modified: 04 Jun 2014 22:12
Published Version: http://www.journals.uchicago.edu/doi/abs/10.1086/5...
Status: Published
Publisher: University of Chicago Press
Identification Number: 10.1086/501097
Related URLs:
URI: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/4609

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