The premise of nuclear weapons, that the splitting of an atom releases enormous amounts of energy, is based on Albert Einstein's theory of relativity, e=mc2. According to Einstein, in certain situations, mass may be converted to energy.
Einstein's theory was used in 1939 to confirm the discovery of atomic fission. When Otto Hahn & Fritz Strassman bombarded a uranium atom with a single neutron in December 1938, Hahn & Strassman were left with barium, the mass of which is half that of uranium. Because the mass of the testing material evaporated during their experimented, Hahn & Strassman surmised that the loss in mass corresponded to an equal amount of energy release during the test. The ability to create energy by splitting a uranium atom led the way to the creation of an atomic bomb.
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