Controversy and Consensus: Nuclear Beta Decay 1911-1934
In 1920s, a long-lasting controversy on the interpretation of nuclear beta spectrum arose between Lise Meitner and Charles Drummond Ellis. This controversy, and the reactions from the contending parties when it was settled, reflect clearly the difference between the scientific communities in Berlin and Cambridge at that time. The Meitner-Ellis controversy ended in 1929, and it left an anomaly that attracted leading theoretical physicists. A new dispute, this time between Niels Bohr and Wolfgang Pauli, broke out. It concerned the explanation of the continuity of the primary beta particles and dominated the discussions for the next five years. Pauli argued for a new particle, and Bohr for a new theory; both suggestions were radical steps, but they reflected two different ways of doing physics.