Uranium Wars: The Scientific Rivalry that Created the Nuclear Age

Overview

Set against the darkening shadow of World War II, Uranium Wars follows the time's most brilliant scientists as they race to capture nuclear power. Pioneering woman physicist Lise Meitner uncovered nuclear fission but never won the Nobel Prize. Denmark's Niles Bohr sided with the Allies when he held a secret meeting with his protégé and possible Nazi collaborator Werner Heisenberg. Years of dogged research culminated on a racquetball court at the University of Chicago as Italian physicist Enrico Fermi set off the ...

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Uranium Wars: The Scientific Rivalry that Created the Nuclear Age

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Overview

Set against the darkening shadow of World War II, Uranium Wars follows the time's most brilliant scientists as they race to capture nuclear power. Pioneering woman physicist Lise Meitner uncovered nuclear fission but never won the Nobel Prize. Denmark's Niles Bohr sided with the Allies when he held a secret meeting with his protégé and possible Nazi collaborator Werner Heisenberg. Years of dogged research culminated on a racquetball court at the University of Chicago as Italian physicist Enrico Fermi set off the first nuclear chain reaction that led to the building of the atom bomb. Told with flair by one of our best popular science writers, Uranium Wars is a fast paced and vivid narrative about a pivotal moment in history. Amir D. Aczel expertly connects the dots to today, when nations seek nuclear capability and scientists strive to better understand and responsibly manage the most controversial type of energy ever discovered.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“Combining these themes in a single, brief narrative is a difficult trick but one Aczel pulls off well. . .[he] writes with colour, lucidity and conviction.”—The Financial Times

“The book covers several new developments of interest to atomic aficionados...Mr Aczel’s research is thorough and his conclusions interesting.”—The Economist

“Fascinating...the history, especially of the second world war, make this a worthwhile book.”—New Scientist

“The combination of clear, in-depth scientific explanation and outstanding research make this book, from the author of Fermat’s Last Theorem, the one you should grab.”—Discover

“Aczel ponders the moral conduct of the scientists involved…he has developed rich anecdotes about their personalities and discoveries.”—The Globe and Mail

“Endlessly compelling…Aczel is a skilled science writer”—Library Journal

“A readable account of how nuclear bombs came to be made, deployed and developed…Aczel brings the story up to date.”—The Times

“A fascinating examination of the events, the personalities, and the science that have led to the atomic bomb. A very timely book at an era in which nuclear proliferation has become a real danger.” — Mario Livio, best-selling author of Is God A Mathematician?

“Reinforced by Aczel’s intent review of the historical controversy surrounding the 1941 meeting between physicists Niels Bohr and Werner Heisenberg, and of the decision (which Aczel criticizes) to use the new doomsday weapon on Japan, this synthesis of early atomic history strengthens Aczel’s reputation for writing accessible, well received popular works on physics and mathematics.”—Booklist

"A concise and cogent review of one of the most exhilarating, yet fearsome, eras in the history of scientific discovery.  Aczel sharply profiles the brilliant—and often conflicted—men and women who led us into the nuclear age."  — Marcia Bartusiak, author of Einstein's Unfinished Symphony

"Amir Aczel skillfully and lucidly traces the twists and turns of uranium: a once obscure metal that became, through chance discoveries and a string of intricate decisions, the chief character of one of the central political, military, and scientific developments of the twentieth century.  Rarely has the story of nuclear fission been told in so clear and riveting a fashion.” — Michael D. Gordin author of Five Days in August: How World War II Became a Nuclear War

 

“Uranium Wars is a fascinating story of discovery, intrigue, clash of egos, spying, and international conflict. Aczel tells this amazing story in a racy and accessible style - with authority but lightness-of-touch to hold the reader spell-bound.” —David Clark, author of Newton's Tyranny

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780230103351
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press
  • Publication date: 11/9/2010
  • Series: MacSci Series
  • Pages: 256
  • Product dimensions: 6.96 (w) x 11.80 (h) x 0.67 (d)

Meet the Author

Amir D. Aczel is the author of 14 books, including The Riddle of the Compass, The Mystery of the Aleph, and the international bestseller Fermat’s Last Theorem. An internationally known writer of mathematics and science and a fellow of the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, he lives near Boston.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments 9

Preface 11

Cast of Characters 15

A Note on Nomenclature 19

Glossary of Atomic Terms 21

Introduction: The Blinding Light 23

1 Physics and Uranium 28

2 On the Trail of the Nucleus 37

3 Lise Meitner 52

4 The Meitner-Hahn Discovery 61

5 Enrico Fermi 74

6 The Rome Experiments 88

7 The Events of 1938 98

8 Christmas 1938 104

9 The Heisenberg Menace 114

10 Chain Reaction 123

11 The Nazi Nuclear Machine 131

12 Copenhagen 143

13 The Moment of Truth 153

14 Building the Bomb 162

15 The Decision to Use the Bomb 178

16 Evidence from a Spying Operation 192

17 The Cold War 203

18 Uranium's Future 211

Notes 225

References 237

Index 240

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