Cockcroft and Walton's research laboratory, Cambridge, c 1930s.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Model of Cockcroft and Walton's research laboratory at Cambridge, made in 1947. J D Cockcroft (1897-1967) made his name as a physicist in 1932, by a brilliant experiment with E T S Walton. G. Gamow (1904-1968) mentioned to Cockcroft that bombarding particles may be able to enter nuclei by tunnelling through the barriers. This could occur at much lower energies than those required to overcome the repulsion between the two. Cockcroft and Walton directed accelerated protons at a lithium target, and found that alpha particles were produced. The first artificially induced nuclear reaction had occured. The metal stay rods and collars have been added for greater safety in the museum.