|The process of atomic fission|
|Faction||Atomic Kingdom of China|
|Function||Cracking open atoms|
|Brief||Atomic energy and atomic weapons|
Fission sets in the West... Edit
“Gentlemen, I think it’s time we face the facts. The search for atomic fission has proven to be the biggest wild goose chase of 20th century science.”
- - Robert Oppenheimer – Presentation given at the 1951 annual Massachusetts Applied Sciences Conference.
"Atomic energy has been, is now, and forever will be the power source of the future."
- - An Allied physicist sceptical of the practicality of nuclear fission
If there is one phrase that could be used to sum up the entire search for atomic fission in the west, it is this: “lacking direction”. Work done earlier in the century by the physicist Albert Einstein had demonstrated the equivalence of mass and energy, a fact that theoretically meant one could convert a small amount of matter into a huge amount of energy. However, Einstein mysteriously, and sensationally, disappeared partway through the Solway International Physics Conference in Brussels, and his work languished, unattended to by modern physics.
Atomic science still advanced in his absence, and it wasn’t long before theories in quantum mechanics postulated that it might be possible to “split” the nuclei of larger atoms, and release large quantities of energy. However, there was no star of the scientific community to drive home just how powerful this discovery could be. Governments and leaders were not willing to believe present day scientists. There was no massive government-funded effort to try and crack the problem, and the pursuit of fission remained a relatively small endeavour. Further crippling research into nuclear fission were fears about radioactivity, which kept a good number of scientists away from the various attempts made to construct atomic piles.
It isn’t easy to create a stable nuclear reaction. In order to make the fuel, a fissile ore must be processed in a complex series of chemical treatments, refinements, enrichment and extraction methods. Without the funding to do this properly, researchers made a number of critical mistakes. Uranium, the most promising candidate, could never be made to undergo fission as scientists predicted it should have. Sadly, nobody thought to take into account the isotopic composition of uranium. The field ran into road-block after road-block and uranium was eventually written off as a fissile material. It was assumed that if it had actually been fissile, then it would have been done by now.
The field fell into disrepute, and scientists began to leave fission alone in order to concentrate on other areas. A handful of scientists continued, looking for the “philosophical stone” of the modern age – “the true fissile element”. However, the field had been rubbished by a lot of respectable scientists. Nobody with any sense would touch fission, for fear of damaging their reputation, and the few researchers who did were generally regarded as quacks.
Eventually, it was deemed that any element heavy enough to be fissile would also be so radioactive that any natural deposits would have decayed away long ago. The field was renounced, and any and all research on it drew to a close in the western world. It is possible some secret government projects may have continued aspects of the research, but without the rest of the scientific community to back them up, it is unlikely that they would get anywhere.
And rises in the EastEdit
The answer to the problem, however, eluded the scientists on Earth, it seemed, and so fission was left to rot. Its research forgotten and the promises it held regarded as false, all was lost for this theoretical wonder weapon and energy source... until one day in the far east.
By chance, perhaps by fate or simply astronomically long odds, an asteroid made it through the long journey through the universe to finally land in the war-torn, blasted landscape of China. The occurrence was odd enough alone. Very few asteroids can survive such a journey through the universe, let alone Earth's atmosphere. With what the meteor contained, however, this gift from the heavens almost seemed too good to be true. For the first time in Earth's history: true, viable fissile material.
At last, the secrets of atomic fission could be cracked and the power it held could be unleashed, for better or for worse, and the best part of this was that the material was self-replicating. Never diminishing, never faltering, never fading, its bright green light shining a path to the future.