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Additional resources for The quark machines: how Europe fought the particle physics war
Such discoveries were still being openly published in the scientific literature. However a cyclotron could not be used to mass-produce plutonium, although the first microgram samples were obtained this way. Large-scale production of plutonium needed a reactor rather than a cyclotron, backed up by radiochemical Copyright © 1997 IOP Publishing Ltd 36 The Quark Machines separation techniques. For the uranium-235 route, Jesse W Beams at the University of Virginia was proposing a centrifuge method, while Lawrence at Berkeley and John Dunning at Columbia advocated magnetic separation.
Although Schwinger and Feynman were eventually to converge on the same central physics problem, their personalities and their approaches were very different. Schwinger’s first research contribution had come in 1934, when he was just 16 and had assimilated enough of the current formalism to extend the Dirac-Fock-Podolsky approach to quantum electrodynamics. At that time, Feynman was still collecting mathematical equations. These days many people think first of Feynman’s approach to modem quantum electrodynamics, because it is semipictorial and more intuitive, but Schwinger had got there first by an independent route.
Its work done, the Manhattan Project was disbanded, but in October 1945 a new body, the US Atomic Energy Commission (AEC), was established to look after the peacetime development of atomic energy. However, the Defense Department, eager to retain the nuclear initiative, outmatched the AEC in spending power. By 1949, 60% of the federal spending on physics research on US university campuses came from the Defense Department.