In 1934, when the Nazi terror was just beginning, and artificial radioactivity and the neutron had just been discovered, Leo Szilard invented the idea of a neutron chain reaction He believed there must be some atomic nucleus that would, upon absorbing one neutron, emit two neutrons and energy, and that these two neutrons would lead to four, and so on He did not know what nuclear process would be involved or what element would support that process. Nevertheless, he quickly went on to sketch two distinct devices based on such a neutron chain reaction.

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