Much Ado About (Practically) Nothing: A History of the Noble Gases

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Overview

There are eight columns in the Periodic Table. The eighth column is comprised of the rare gases, so-called because they are the rarest elements on earth. They are also called the inert or noble gases because, like nobility, they do no work. They are colorless, odorless, invisible gases which do not react with anything, and were thought to be unimportant until the early 1960s. Starting in that era, David Fisher has spent roughly fifty years doing research on these gases, publishing nearly a hundred papers in the scientific journals, applying them to problems in geophysics and cosmochemistry, and learning how other scientists have utilized them to change our ideas about the universe, the sun, and our own planet.

Much Ado about (Practically) Nothing will cover this spectrum of ideas, interspersed with the author's own work which will serve to introduce each gas and the important work others have done with them. The rare gases have participated in a wide range of scientific advances-even revolutions-but no book has ever recorded the entire story. Fisher will range from the intricacies of the atomic nucleus and the tiniest of elementary particles, the neutrino, to the energy source of the stars; from the age of the earth to its future energies; from life on Mars to cancer here on earth. A whole panoply that has never before been told as an entity.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Fast-paced and humorous, the book keeps the reader's attention, even during complicated passages. Balancing scientific technicalities and story-telling, readers with and without extensive scientific knowledge can enjoy Fisher's book." — Chemical Heritage
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195393965
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 9/22/2010
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 288
  • Sales rank: 536,037
  • Product dimensions: 5.70 (w) x 8.40 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

David E. Fisher is Professor Emeritus of Geological Science at The University of Miami. He is the author of nine novels and fourteen works of non-fiction.

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Table of Contents

1 Philosophy and Apology 1

2 In the Beginning 4

3 Helium 9

4 Argon and the Rest 18

5 Helium and the Age of the Earth 33

6 The Strange Case of Helium and the Nuclear Atom 48

7 Interlude: Helium, Argon, and Creationism 59

8 Meanwhile, Back at Brookhaven 66

9 Cornell, the Ten-Minute Experiment, and Back to Argon 77

10 K/Ar and the Irons 90

11 Interlude: The Spreading Oceans 100

12 Dating the Spreading Seafloor 112

13 The Argon Surprise 124

14 Primvordial Helium and Argon and the Evolution of the Earth 136

15 Xenology 144

16 The Coldest Place on Earth 158

17 Back to the Stars 178

18 The Neutrino Revolution 193

19 Life and Death on Mars and Earth 209

20 Radon and You 229

21 L'Envoi 241

Notes 245

Index 261

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