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In 1898, Marie Curie first described a phenomenon she called "radioactivity." A half-century later, two physicists would stand before dawn in the New Mexico desert, slathering themselves with sunscreen-and fearing that the imminent test detonation might ignite Earth's atmosphere in a cataclysmic chain reaction and transform our planet into a burning star.
This is the epic story of Curie's quest to unlock the secrets of the material world; of the scientists-Rutherford, Bohr, Einstein, Oppenheimer-who built upon her work; of the day the first weapon of mass destruction dropped on Hiroshima, bringing both sudden terror and sudden peace, and of the new era of global uncertainty that emerged in its wake. With the clarity of great science writing, the vividness of historical narrative and the insight of biography, Before the Fallout is an unforgettable and sweeping account of the scientific discovery that changed the world.
Posted December 13, 2006
This book is well worth a read. It sews together the progression from the earliest awareness of previously unknown phenomena through a tightly told tale to the first use of atomic weapons. Superbly told, it brings the whole history of these events in a compelling series of events which inexorably lead to the Manhattan Project. Well written not only from a scientific perspective but also from the quirky personalities involved and the moral and political aspects of what was the most intriguing scientific project of the 20th century
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