The fascinating, little-known story of how two brilliant female physicists’ groundbreaking discoveries led to the creation of the atomic bomb. In 1934, Irène Curie, working with her husband and fellow scientist, Frederic Joliot, made a discovery that would change the world: artificial radioactivity. This breakthrough allowed scientists to modify elements and create new ones by altering the structure of atoms. Curie shared a Nobel Prize with her husband for their work. But when she was nominated to the French Academy of Sciences, the academy denied her admission and voted to disqualify all women from membership. Four years later, Curie’s breakthrough led physicist Lise Meitner to a brilliant leap of understanding that unlocked the secret of nuclear fission. Meitner’s unique insight was critical to the revolution in science that led to nuclear energy and the race to build the atom bomb, yet her achievement was left unrecognized by the Nobel committee in favor of that of her male colleague.Radioactive! presents the story of two women breaking ground in a male-dominated field, scientists still largely unknown despite their crucial contributions to cutting-edge research, in a nonfiction narrative that reads with the suspense of a thriller. Photographs and sidebars illuminate and clarify the science in the book.
About the Author
Winifred Conkling is an award-winning author of fiction and nonfiction for young readers, including Passenger on the Pearl, Radioactive!, Votes for Women!, and the middle-grade novel Sylvia & Aki. You can find her online at winifredconkling.com.
Table of Contents
Contents Chapter 1: “The Most Beautiful Experiment in the World” 1 Chapter 2: Little Queen and the Other Baby 20 Chapter 3: On the Battlefields 35 Chapter 4: Dr. and Mrs. 46 Chapter 5: Right on Time 59 Chapter 6: Lost and Found 67 Chapter 7: A Lab of Her Own 80 Chapter 8: Radium: Treatment or Toxin? 91 Chapter 9: Heavy Metals 100 Chapter 10: Fleeing Hitler’s Germany 108 Chapter 11: Eureka! The Discovery of Fission 123 Chapter 12: Chain Reaction: Research on Fission Goes Global 135 Chapter 13: War 150 Chapter 14: Overlooked 169 Chapter 15: Afterword: Physicists, Pacifists, Realists 179 Time Line 191 Glossary 194 Who’s Who 198 Chapter Notes 202 Bibliography 212 For More Information 214 Web Resources 216 Acknowledgments 218 Index 219