In the early 1930s physicists developed two competing ways of describing the structure of the nucleus. One of these, the liquid‐drop model as articulated by Niels Bohr, was widely regarded as preferable to Walter Elsasser’s shell model, and became the accepted nuclear model by the end of the decade. According to the conventional history of nuclear physics, independent‐particle models like Elsasser’s were only revived 10 years later with the nuclear shell model of Mayer and Jensen. Throughout the period when they claimed to reject the view of nucleons as independent particles, however, nuclear physicists continued to treat nucleons mathematically as independent particles in order to calculate energy levels.

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