Up until the end of the 1970s you could still catch a glimpse of his massive silhouette in the corridors of CERN. Lew Kowarksi, one of the pioneers of the Laboratory, was not only a great physicist; he was also a genuine hero of World War II. In 1940, along with Frédéric Joliot and Hans von Halban, Lew Kowarski managed to get the entire world supply of heavy water away to safety from the Nazis after a fantastic escape from occupied France. At the end of the war, the three physicists played themselves in a film about their adventures entitled 'la Bataille de l'eau lourde'. This film, which has been loaned to us by the French National Film Library, will be shown at CERN for the first time next Thursday. At the beginning of the war, heavy water (D20, two atoms of deuterium and one oxygen atom) was of strategic importance. In 1939 Frédéric Joliot, aided by Hans von Halban and Lew Kowarski, demonstrated the nuclear chain reaction and the moderator role that heavy water plays in it. A few weeks before the inv...
Matter is made up of atoms. In 1912, the English physicist Ernest Rutherford (who had shown that the atom had a nucleus), and the Danish physicist Niels Bohr developed a model in which the atom was made up of a positively charged nucleus surrounded by a cloud of electrons. In 1913, Rutherford discovered the proton, and in 1932, the English physicist Chadwick discovered the neutron. In 1938, Hahn and Strassmann discovered spontaneous fission and the French physicist Frederic Joliot-Curie, assisted by Lew Kowarski and Hans Von Halban, showed in 1939 that splitting uranium nuclei caused an intense release of heat. The discovery of the chain reaction would enable the exploitation of nuclear energy. 'It was the Second World War leaders who, by encouraging research for military purposes, contributed to the development of nuclear energy'. During the Second World War, from 1939 to 1945, studies of fission continued in the United States, with the participation of emigre physicists. The Manhattan project was launched, the aim of which was to provide the country with a nuclear weapon (used at Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945). After the war ended, research into energy production by the nuclear fission reaction continued for civil purposes. CEA (the French Atomic Energy Commission) was set up in France in 1945 under the impetus of General de Gaulle. This public research body is responsible for giving France mastery of the atom in the research, health, energy, industrial, safety and defense sectors. (authors)
Nesvizhevsky, Valery; Villain, Jacques
In 1930, Walther Bothe and Herbert Becker performed an experiment, which was further improved by Irène and Frédéric Joliot-Curie. These authors, however, misinterpreted their results and believed to have observed γ-rays while they had seen neutrons. After additional experimental verifications, James Chadwick gave the correct interpretation of these experiments in 1932. Immediately, the new particle, the neutron, became an essential actor of nuclear and elementary particle physics, and completely changed the whole research landscape. Enrico Fermi and his group applied it to artificial radioactivity, substituting neutrons to α-rays initially used by Joliot-Curies. They also discovered that slow neutrons were more efficient than fast ones in certain nuclear reactions. A crucial discovery of Otto Hahn, Fritz Straßmann, Lise Meitner, and Otto Frisch, after several misinterpretations of complicated experimental results, was nuclear fission. When Joliot, Halban, and Kowarski demonstrated the possibility of a chain reaction by neutron multiplication due to fission, nuclear physics became a military science, at the very moment when the Second World War was beginning. Later it led to nuclear power applications and use of neutrons as an important tool and object of scientific research at large-scale neutron facilities. The Comptes rendus de l'Académie des sciences were partner of a vivid international debate involving several other journals.
Quinn, D; Orci, L; Ravazzola, M; Moore, H P
Human proinsulin and insulin oligomerize to form dimers and hexamers. It has been suggested that the ability of prohormones to self associate and form aggregates may be responsible for the sorting process at the trans-Golgi. To examine whether insulin oligomerization is required for proper sorting into regulated storage granules, we have constructed point mutations in human insulin B chain that have been previously shown to prevent formation of insulin hexamers (Brange, J., U. Ribel, J. F. Hansen, G. Dodson, M. T. Hansen, S. Havelund, S. G. Melberg, F. Norris, K. Norris, L. Snel, A. R. Sorensen, and H. O. Voight. 1988. Nature [Lond.]. 333:679-682). One mutant (B10His----Asp) allows formation of dimers but not hexamers and the other (B9Ser----Asp) prevents formation of both dimers and hexamers. The mutants were transfected into the mouse pituitary AtT-20 cells, and their ability to be sorted into regulated secretory granules was compared to wild-type insulin. We found that while B10His----Asp is sorted somewhat less efficiently than wild-type insulin as reported previously (Carroll, R. J., R. E. Hammer, S. J. Chan, H. H. Swift, A. H. Rubenstein, and D. F. Steiner. 1988. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA. 85:8943-8947; Gross, D. J., P. A. Halban, C. R. Kahn, G. C. Weir, and L. Villa-Kumaroff. 1989. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA. 86:4107-4111). B9Ser----Asp is targeted to granules as efficiently as wild-type insulin. These results indicate that self association of proinsulin into hexamers is not required for its targeting to the regulated secretory pathway.