Radioactivity: A History of a Mysterious Science [NOOK Book]

Overview

This is the story of a new science. Beginning with an obscure discovery in 1896, radioactivity led researchers on a quest for understanding that ultimately confronted the intersection of knowledge and mystery.

Mysterious from the start, radioactivity attracted researchers who struggled to understand it. What caused certain atoms to give off invisible, penetrating rays? Where did the energy come from? These questions became increasingly pressing when researchers realized the ...

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Radioactivity: A History of a Mysterious Science

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Overview

This is the story of a new science. Beginning with an obscure discovery in 1896, radioactivity led researchers on a quest for understanding that ultimately confronted the intersection of knowledge and mystery.

Mysterious from the start, radioactivity attracted researchers who struggled to understand it. What caused certain atoms to give off invisible, penetrating rays? Where did the energy come from? These questions became increasingly pressing when researchers realized the process seemed to continue indefinitely, producing huge quantities of energy. Investigators found cases where radioactivity did change, forcing them to the startling conclusion that radioactive bodies were transmuting into other substances. Chemical elements were not immutable after all. Radioactivity produced traces of matter so minuscule and evanescent that researchers had to devise new techniques and instruments to investigate them.

Scientists in many countries, but especially in laboratories in Paris, Manchester, and Vienna unraveled the details of radioactive transformations. They created a new science with specialized techniques, instruments, journals, and international conferences. Women entered the field in unprecedented numbers. Experiments led to revolutionary ideas about the atom and speculations about atomic energy. The excitement spilled over to the public, who expected marvels and miracles from radium, a scarce element discovered solely by its radioactivity. The new phenomenon enkindled the imagination and awakened ancient themes of literature and myth.

Entrepreneurs created new industries, and physicians devised novel treatments for cancer. Radioactivity gave archaeologists methods for dating artifacts and meteorologists a new explanation for the air's conductivity. Their explorations revealed a mysterious radiation from space. Radioactivity profoundly changed science, politics, and culture. The field produced numerous Nobel Prize winners, yet radioactivity's talented researchers could not solve the mysteries underlying the new phenomenon. That was left to a new generation and a new way of thinking about reality.

Radioactivity presents this fascinating history in a way that is both accessible and appealing to the general reader. Not merely a historical account, the book examines philosophical issues connected with radioactivity, and relates its topics to broader issues regarding the nature of science.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Malley does a wonderful job of demonstrating how scientific discovery functions, as opposed to the usual approach in which facts and figures are given as tidbits along a chronology. Strongly recommended for history of science collections, high school science students, and anyone curious about radioactivity and the history of science." Library Journal

"Looking back in time, it's often hard to know what all the fuss was about. What is so strange about one element decaying into another. Malley does a wonderful job of showing the uncertainty and confusion of that time and how scientists worked their way to a new understanding of the atom." — Chemical Heritage, Spring 2012

Library Journal
Japan's recent Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster brought worldwide attention to the topic of radiation. Science and mathematics educator Malley presents a timely tale about the discovery of radioactivity, the development of our knowledge of the physical universe, and the way radioactivity has changed our world. Whether or not you attended any chemistry or physics courses in your lifetime (or remember what you learned in them), Malley manages to make the periodic table and the giants involved in its creation interesting. She touches on applications of radioactive substances in such fields as geology, medicine, archaeology, and engineering, but the applications are not the focus of the book. Those seeking knowledge about what we do with what we have learned about radiation should look elsewhere; this book is all about the science and its historical characters. VERDICT Malley does a wonderful job of demonstrating how scientific discovery functions, as opposed to the usual approach in which facts and figures are given as tidbits along a chronology. Strongly recommended for history of science collections, high school science students, and anyone curious about radioactivity and the history of science.—James A. Buczynski, Seneca Coll. of Applied Arts & Technology, Toronto
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780199831784
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 7/28/2011
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Sales rank: 732,638
  • File size: 4 MB

Meet the Author

Marjorie C. Malley was involved with science and mathematics education for many years, including teaching, curriculum development, and consulting. Her publications include articles on radioactivity, luminescence, the nature and history of science, and biographical subjects. Dr. Malley was a member of the review panel for the National History Standards and is a past chair of the Education Committee of the History of Science Society.

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Table of Contents

Preface
List of Illustrations
Introduction

I. A NEW SCIENCE

Chapter 1. The Beginnings
The Setting
Rays and Radiation
Becquerel's Discovery

Chapter 2. The Curies
Maria Sk_odowska
A Consequential Meeting
New Elements!

Chapter 3. Rutherford, Soddy, Particles, and Alchemy?
Rutherford and the Rays
Where did the Energy come from?
Material Rays? Discovery of the Beta Particle
Thorium's Rays
Vanishing Radioactivity
Transmutation!
A Missed Discovery
Reactions
Atomic Energy?
Tragedy
More Rays
The Alpha Particle

Chapter 4. The Radioactive Earth
The Prospectors
How Old is the Earth?
A New Property of Matter?

Chapter 5. Speculations
Early Theories
Radioactivity and Probability
Kinetic Models of the Atom

Chapter 6. Radioactivity and Chemistry
The Rise of Radiochemistry
Radioactive Genealogy
Chemistry of the Imponderable
Inseparable Radioelements
Isotopes
Displacement Laws
The End of the Lines
More Isotopes

Chapter 7. Inside the Atom
Building Blocks
Bombarding Atoms
The Nucleus and the Periodic Table
The Gamma Rays
Theories of the Nucleus

Chapter 8. Sequel
War!
Radioactivity during World War I
From Radioactivity to Nuclear and Particle Physics

II. MEASURING AND USING RADIOACTIVITY

Chapter 9. Methods and Instruments
Crucial Choices
Standardizing the Measures
Innovations
Size, Money, and Machines

Chapter 10. Radioactivity, Medicine, and Life
Unpleasant Surprises
From Burns to Therapy
Rays and other Organisms
Miracle Cure?
Radioactive Spas
Dangers in the Laboratory

Chapter 11. New Industries
Early Industry
Soaring Demand and New Institutions
Paint that Glowed in the Dark
A New Poison
Fission, Bombs, and the Uranium Rush
Radioactivity and the Oil Industry

III. BEYOND THE STORY

Chapter 12. Radioactivity's Prime Movers
Technology, Resources, and Professional Changes
Individuals
Research Groups
Scientific Ideals and Culture
Mentors and Models
Age, Attitudes, and Ambition
Nationalism

Chapter 13. Radioactivity and Timeless Questions: the Quest for Understanding
Models and Theories for Radioactivity
Patterns in Radioactivity's Development
Ideas about Change
Ideas about Matter and Energy
Ideas about Continuity and Discontinuity
Eternal Conundrums

Chapter 14. The Imaginative Appeal of a Discovery
Mythological and Romantic Dimensions of Radioactivity
An Ongoing Task

Appendices

1. Glossary of Rays and Radiations
2. Family Trees for Radioactive Elements
3. Radioactivity's Elusive Cause
4. Nobel Prize Winners Included in this Book
5. Radioactivity's Web of Influence
6. Timeline

Notes
Selected Bibliography
Index

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 16 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(12)

4 Star

(1)

3 Star

(0)

2 Star

(2)

1 Star

(1)

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Sort by: Showing 1 – 15 of 16 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 22, 2013

    Radioactive

    I'm waking up, to ash and dust. I wipe my brow, and i sweat my rust. I'm breathing in the chemicals. Heaah ahhh. I'm breaking in, and shaping up, then checking out on the prison bus. This is it the apocalypse. Woah, I'm waking up. I feel it in my bones, enough to make my system grow. Welcome to the new age, to the new age, welcome to the new age, to the new age! Woah oh oh oh, woah oh oh, I'm radioactive, radioactive! Woah oh oh oh, woah oh oh, I'm radioactive, radioactive. I raise my flag, and don my clothes. Its a revolution, I suppose. We're painted red to fit right in. Woah! I'm breaking in, and shaping up, then checking out on the prison bus. This is it, the apocalypse. Woah! I'm waking up, I feel it in my bones, enough to make my system grow. Welcome to the new age, to the new age, welcome to the new age, to the new age. Woah oh oh oh oh, woah oh oh oh, I'm radioactive, radioactive. Woah oh oh oh oh, woah oh oh oh, I'm radioactive, radioactive. All systems go, the sun hasn't died. Deep in my bones, straight from inside. I'm waking up. I feel it in my bones, enough to make my system grow, welcome to the new age, to the new age, welcome to the new age, to the new age! Woah oh oh oh oh, woah oh oh oh, I'm radioactive, radioactive! Woah oh oh oh oh, woah oh oh oh, I'm radioactive, radioactive!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 17, 2013

    Radioactive

    Were painted red to fit right in.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 6, 2013

    BrassBlade

    Walk in with brass armor and asked," hey im here for a partner,

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 5, 2013

    ~Awfultoe117





    Hello, this is now an active chat zone

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 10, 2013

    Mapleshade

    Not a chance

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 29, 2013

    An assassain

    Leaps out of nowhere onto Juggernuat. (Oops i think i spelled it wrong. "Leave all kits out." She grabs Fawnkit and brings her to Steel res 1.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 13, 2013

    Thistlwfang

    "I understand." He saud smiling

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 21, 2013

    Nightmare

    "Someday i might just make my own clan. X she muttered softly.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 29, 2013

    Nebula

    She gets up and climbs higher in the trees

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 29, 2013

    Juggernaut

    *follows Scourge*

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 29, 2013

    Rosepaw

    Sits

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 12, 2013

    Scourge

    Waits for colestar.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 2, 2013

    Birchstorm

    Leave!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 29, 2013

    Aw

    Gtgtb bbt

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 10, 2012

    Pretty dry

    If I had not read "The Making of The Atomic Bomb" by Richard Rhodes I would not have been able to understand much here. But most frustrating was seeing obvious opportunities for little side trips into areas of interest passed up. I prefer a more scientific history, this to me is more of a historical history, and a dry one. I missed having the author try to make me feel as if I were part of the discovery process. Not every author can be Rhodes or McPhee, but for me they set the standard.

    The bomb that was tested in the Trinity test was a Plutonium bomb, not a Uranium bomb as is stated.

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