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Origin of the Word ‘Neutron’


THE word ‘neutron’ has been attributed to Rutherford by Glasson1 and to W. D. Harkins2 by Glasstone3. It appears likely that it was not used by either Rutherford or Hawkins before about 1920. In both cases, the neutron was a hypothetical combination of a hydrogen nucleus (also called a ‘positive electron’ or ‘proton’) and an ordinary negative electron.

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  1. Glasson, J. L., Phil. Mag., 6, 42, 597 (1921).

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  2. Harkins, W. D., Phil. Mag., 6, 42, 305 (1921).

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  3. Glasstone, S., Sourcebook on Atomic Energy, 56 (Van Nostrand, New York, 1950).

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  4. Sutherland, W., Phil. Mag., 6 3, 162 (1902).

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BRUSH, S. Origin of the Word ‘Neutron’. Nature 190, 251–252 (1961).

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