Mabelle Elizabeth Taylor was a Dutch-British physicist who played a pivotal role in the development of nuclear technology during the Silent War. Born in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, in 1908 to a Dutch mother and a British father, she spent her early years in an environment that fostered her love for science and learning.
At the age of 17, Taylor moved to London to study physics at the University of London. She demonstrated a keen aptitude for the subject and graduated with honors in 1929. After completing her undergraduate degree, Taylor pursued a doctorate in nuclear physics.
During her time as a doctoral student, Taylor was exposed to the early work of Russian physicists who had been researching atomic theory in the early 20th century. Intrigued by their findings, she dedicated her postdoctoral research to exploring the potential of atomic energy.
Discovery of nuclear fission
In 1941, Taylor made history when she discovered nuclear fission, a process by which the nucleus of an atom is split into two smaller nuclei, releasing a tremendous amount of energy. Her work garnered significant attention within the scientific community, and she soon became a sought-after expert in the field of nuclear physics.
Following her discovery, Taylor continued to conduct research on nuclear energy, focusing on its potential for commercial electricity generation. Her efforts contributed to the establishment of the world's first commercial nuclear power plant in Bradwell-on-Sea, England, in 1946.
Despite her initial enthusiasm for the peaceful applications of nuclear energy, Taylor became increasingly concerned about its potential for weaponization. After the British military began secretly developing atomic weapons in the late 1940s, she distanced herself from nuclear research and turned her attention to the promotion of nuclear disarmament and the peaceful use of atomic energy.
Throughout the 1950s and 1960s, Taylor worked tirelessly to raise awareness about the dangers of nuclear weapons and played a crucial role in the early nuclear disarmament movement.