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The particles expelled from these two atoms break four more apart, and the chain reaction proceeds, affecting 1, 2, 4, 8, 16, 32, 64 atoms, and so on. This series of mini-explosions will release heat and energy, and this will cause the metal to melt and ooze down into a puddle. As it does so, the atoms will separate from each other: heat causes expansion. In turn, this will make it less likely that the escaping particles will bump into a neighbouring atom. Thus the chain reaction will fizzle, affecting, say, 64, 32, 27, 16, 5, and eventually 0 atoms.

It says that some measurements reveal the real distances and durations, while some instruments are distorted by the effects of their own high speeds and report merely apparent distances and durations. Historically, Lorentz and other advocates of the minority interpretation were motivated by the following sorts of ideas. Just as water waves are disturbances travelling through water, they reasoned, light waves must be disturbances travelling through some very thin fluid filling all of space. They called this fluid the “ether”, which is Greek for flame or fire.

In turn, this will make it less likely that the escaping particles will bump into a neighbouring atom. Thus the chain reaction will fizzle, affecting, say, 64, 32, 27, 16, 5, and eventually 0 atoms. The uranium will melt and become white hot but nothing more. This is where the physicists call in the engineers. To sustain the chain reaction, the uranium atoms must be held together tightly for just long enough for the chain reaction to proceed. This is a delicate 46 H O W T O B U I L D A N AT O M I C B O M B feat of engineering.

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Astrophysics and general relativity by Chretien


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