Before the Fall-Out: From Marie Curie To Hiroshima

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  3. Before the Fallout: From Marie Curie to Hiroshima: Diana Preston: Bloomsbury USA
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Desde este punto se puede saltar a Quantum: A good, in-depth read about the 45 years between Radioactivity's discovery, and its weaponization. Also as much of a history of the scientists themselves, similar to Bill Bryson's 'A Short History of Nearly Everything' [although not as humorous: Very interesting to see how many of the scientists, slowly sensing that nuclear physics could lead to some sort of weapon, were talking about an eventual 'arms race' 20 years before the USA and USSR would both have the bomb, and do exactly that. A sense A good, in-depth read about the 45 years between Radioactivity's discovery, and its weaponization.

A sense that this was a weapon to have, but not to use. The German scientists tried to claim that they slowed down their programs to prevent Hitler from getting a bomb; but this is moot since the Allies would have been able to seek and destroy any of the huge facilities required to enrich uranium or produce plutonium on the continent. The author mentions today's emerging science in genetics and nanotechnology, which may be our current ethical-line-drawing fields [although don't forget CERN and its black holes!: I had known about Oak Ridge and the many facilities set up in the USA during the Manhattan Project, but this book helped clear up exactly what they were doing and why.

Don't tell the Iranians. Finally, the book also touches on the changing views during WWII of bombing civilian targets, leading up to Hiroshima. Numbers of casualties are knocked around, but it is clear that this isn't an easy question to answer; the what-if epilogue shows both sides of the argument well.

Let's hope humanity learned something from it. Nov 30, Benjamin Stocksdale rated it really liked it Shelves: I stumbled upon this book one day when walking through the library to pick up a book I turned down the wrong aisle and the title caught my eye. I read the prologue and was intrigued enough to check it out.


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I am glad I did. I enjoy reading biographies, books on science, history, WWII, and many other subjects but this book hit those four mentioned at the same time. For the scientists involved Preston almost presents mini-biographies for them as she explains their scientific work and its contribution to the progression of nuclear weapons. She also succeeds at putting a human face on many of the scientists in this book. She presents the material and scientists in such a light that you can almost feel the weight of their decisions when trying to decide whether to build a bomb or not.

She presents many stories and moral dilemmas through the book that will make you question your own thoughts on how the use of the atomic bombs were handled. Nov 22, Will Bell rated it really liked it Shelves: A good story told in an engaging and forthright style which gives enough detail to keep the readers attention but not so much that the book becomes unreadable. I do find Preston's style more effective than many historical writers who write themed historical novels; albeit as a pure historical research piece of work, the narrative style sometimes distracts from the overall analytical approach.

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Would certainly recommend to those interested in the topic. Feb 24, Dr. This is a brilliant narrative of the birthpangs of the atom Bomb. I had read the book and remembered many details. Diana Preston has tried to make it as sequential as she could. This is recommended to historians of Science, Students of Science and Engineering. My advice is "Read slow and carefully" You will not be disappointed.


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Feb 15, Jim rated it really liked it. Definitely my kind of book. Popular science, the story of the scientific discoveries of the atom which led to the realization that splitting the atom would release tremendous amounts of energy, which led to the building of the atomic bomb.

Before the Fallout

Preston is an engaging writer, and the story is fascinating. I couldn't put the book down. I have a renewed appreciation of these scientists, and how they began to understand the building blocks of life. Jul 28, Kathy rated it really liked it. This is a very good book about the physics and physicists between the s and I liked learning about the scientists and their interrelationships, and the science parts were easily understood by non-scientists. I had not read anything about the scientists working on the bomb for Germany. Mar 03, Pamela rated it it was amazing Shelves: An excellent, enjoyable, and very readable history of nuclear and atomic science from its early days of radium and the Curies to the use of the atomic bomb on Japan in WWII.

Preston goes easy on the science, but the book is not dumbed down at all. Instead, she focuses on historical and human implications of this research. Mar 29, Lindsay Leshin rated it really liked it. A compelling account of the atomic race for the bomb! Very good insight and it is apparent that Ms. Preston really delved into her research on each topic. I have never really been one to be interested in modern history, but after reading this text, I must say that my interest has been peaked.

This is a particularly well-written recount of the discovery of the atom and the road up to the fission bombs of The motivations and actions of the various people involved are dealt with nicely, and I particularly like the way she adds a bit of emphasis on the women involved in the whole process.

Engaging history of the scientists and context of the development of the atomic bomb, from Marie and Pierre Curie, radium tonics, Rutherford, Bohr, Oppenheimer and Co. The technicalities are explained well for non-specialists. Mar 26, Rae rated it liked it Shelves: An extrememly detailed account of radioactive elements Much more informative than my interest could hold. Es idealpara amantes de la historia, pero no para los que adoran las novelas que tratan las emociones humanas como yo. Nov 16, Patty Abrams rated it liked it Shelves: This book describes the progress of the discovery of the breaking of the atom and then to forming the bomb.

It also gives a bit about each of the scientists involved in the process and some history of what was happening in Germany with Hitler at the time. Feb 20, Matt Wood rated it it was amazing. Excellent history of nuclear physics leading up to the development and deployment of the bomb. Details many of the scientists and their discoveries in the field. International heavy hitters of physics brought to life through the author's wonderful sense of historical narrative.

Before the Fallout: From Marie Curie to Hiroshima: Diana Preston: Bloomsbury USA

Jan 01, Kiersten rated it it was amazing. Brilliantly written--intertwining the activities and personalities of dozens of different chemists and physicists from around the world, making the science accessible, and exploring the ethical questions involved. I would say a very scholarly effort by the author. May 05, Ayla rated it really liked it. A history book that reads like a novel but oh so depressing.

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Un viaje desde las alturas de la curiosidad humana a las profundidades de la guerra. El fin de la inocencia para la ciencia del siglo XX. Very readable sweeping history of the science of atomic energy up until the end of the second world war. Apr 26, Danielle is currently reading it Shelves: How fascinating does this sound?


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  • Before The Fallout : From Marie Curie to Hiroshima;
  • Before the Fallout: From Marie Curie to Hiroshima by Diana Preston.
  • Before the Fallout: From Marie Curie to Hiroshima;
  • Before the fallout : from Marie Curie to Hiroshima.

Aug 01, Eric added it Shelves: This is a good book for research or to gain insight into specific scientists or events related to modern chemistry or physics. Other than that it kind of sucks. There are no discussion topics on this book yet. After earning her degree, she became a freelance writer of feature and travel articles for national UK newspapers and magazines and has subsequently reviewed books for a number of publications, including The Wall Street Journal and The Los Angeles T From Walker Books: After earning her degree, she became a freelance writer of feature and travel articles for national UK newspapers and magazines and has subsequently reviewed books for a number of publications, including The Wall Street Journal and The Los Angeles Times.

She has also been a broadcaster for the BBC and the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, and has been featured in various television documentaries. Before the Fallout is the epic story of the intervening half century, during which an exhilarating quest to unravel the secrets of the material world revealed how to destroy it, and an open, international, scientific adventure transmuted overnight into a wartime sprint for the bomb.

Weaving together history, science, and biography, Diana Preston chronicles a human chain reaction of scientists and leaders whose discoveries and decisions forever changed our lives. The early decades of the 20th century brought Einstein's relativity theory, Rutherford's discovery of the atomic nucleus, and Heisenberg's quantum mechanics, and scientists of many nations worked together to tease out the secrets of the atom.

Only 12 years before Hiroshima, one leading physicist dismissed the idea of harnessing energy from atoms as "moonshine. Preston interviewed the surviving scientists, and she offers new insight into the fateful wartime meeting between Heisenberg and Bohr, along with a fascinating conclusion examining what might have happened had any number of events occurred differently.

She also provides a rare portrait of Hiroshima before the blast.