THE NEUTRON was discovered in 1932. Why, then, did it take seven years before nuclear fission was found? Fission is obviously a striking phenomenon; it results in a large amount of radioactivity of all kinds and produces fragments that have more than ten times the total ionization of anything previously known. So why did it take so long? The question might be answered best by reviewing the situation in Europe from an experimentalist's point of view.
Initial formulations of nuclear fission are colored with the successes, failures and just plain bad luck of several scientists from different nations. The winning combination of good fortune and careful thought made this exciting concept a reality.