Download Before the Fall-Out: From Marie Curie to Hiroshima by Diana Preston PDF

By Diana Preston

In 1898, Marie Curie first defined a phenomenon she referred to as "radioactivity." A half-century later, physicists might stand sooner than sunrise within the New Mexico barren region, slathering themselves with sunscreen-and fearing that the upcoming try detonation may well ignite Earth's surroundings in a cataclysmic chain response and remodel our planet right into a burning star.

This is the epic tale of Curie's quest to liberate the secrets and techniques of the fabric international; of the scientists-Rutherford, Bohr, Einstein, Oppenheimer-who outfitted upon her paintings; of the day the 1st weapon of mass destruction dropped on Hiroshima, bringing either unexpected terror and surprising peace, and of the hot period of worldwide uncertainty that emerged in its wake. With the readability of serious technological know-how writing, the vividness of ancient narrative and the perception of biography, Before the Fallout is an unforgettable and sweeping account of the clinical discovery that modified the area.


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Extra resources for Before the Fall-Out: From Marie Curie to Hiroshima

Sample text

Nevertheless, the Curies moved in and awaited the delivery of ten tons of pitchblende residue from the St Joachimsthal uranium mines in Bohemia, the principal source of uranium ore in Europe. The valuable uranium salts extracted from pitchblende were used to dye skins for the then fashionable yellow gloves and to stain glass in rich hues of orange and yellow, but the residue was considered worthless. The Curies hoped it would still contain enough radium for their purposes. When horse-drawn carts finally delivered the sacks of ore, Marie impatiently ripped one open, spilling the contents, still mixed with Bohemian pine needles, out on the courtyard.

Dalton's vision of atoms was the Newtonian one of hard, indestructible billiard balls whose arrangement determined the characteristics of chemical compounds. While the scientific world mulled over the implications of Thomson's discovery, the ambitious Rutherford was preparing to move on after just three years at the Cavendish. In August 1898, helped by a testimonial from * The ancient Greeks had two theories about the nature of matter. Some, like Aristotle, believed matter was infinite and continuous and so could be infinitely subdivided.

Her defeat of China in 1894-5 had shocked the world and prompted the German Kaiser to coin the expression 'die gelbe Gefahr' - 'the Yellow Peril'. Western guidebooks praised the port city of Hiroshima for its lacquer work, bronzes, exquisite landscaped gardens and succulent oysters. The latter were cultivated on bamboo stakes driven into the sea-bed and regularly exposed at low tide. But during the Sino-Japanese war it became the most important military base in western Japan. Hiroshima's sixteenthcentury founder, the warlord Mori Terumoto, had named the city after its striking and strategic waterside setting 'Hiroshima' means 'wide islands'.

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