17 SEPTEMBER 1921, Page 3

The British Association at Edinburgh heard many interesting papers, but

that which opened up the greatest possibilities for mankind was Professor Richardson's address on the power stored up in the atom. No one has ever seen an atom, but chemists and physicists now assert with the utmost confidence that an atom is "a positively charged nucleus of minute size, surrounded at a fairly respectful distance by the number of electrons requisite to maintain the structure electrically." The transmutation. of the elements is no longer regarded as an alchemist's dream. Sir Ernest Rutherford has " bombarded the nuclei of different atoms with the helium nuclei given off by radioactive substances, and he has found that the ejected fragments had a greater kinetic energy than the helium. That is to say, the " bombardment " released the energy stored up in the nuclei. This energy is "some millions of times" greater than that generated by any chemical reaction such as the com- bustion of coal. The problem is to bring this sub-atomio energy under control. With an infinitesimal amount of radium we should then have unlimited stores of cheap power such as the world has never had before. It is a fascinating prospect.