Plutonium: A History of the World's Most Dangerous Element (Google eBook)

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Joseph Henry Press, Apr 13, 2007 - Science - 201 pages
14 Reviews
When plutonium was first manufactured at Berkeley in the spring of 1941, there was so little of it that it was not visible to the naked eye. It took a year to accumulate enough so that one could actually see it. Now there is so much that we don t know what to do to get rid of it. We have created a monster.

The history of plutonium is as strange as the element itself. When scientists began looking for it, they did so simply in the spirit of inquiry, not certain whether there were still spots to fill on the periodic table. But the discovery of fission made it clear that this still-hypothetical element would be more than just a scientific curiosity it could be a powerful nuclear weapon.

As it turned out, it is good for almost nothing else. Plutonium s nuclear potential put it at the heart of the World War II arms race the Russians found out about it through espionage, the Germans through independent research, and everybody wanted some. Now, nearly everyone has some the United States alone has about 47 metric tons but it has almost no uses besides warmongering. How did the product of scientific curiosity become such a dangerous burden?

In his new history of this complex and dangerous element, noted physicist Jeremy Bernstein describes the steps that were taken to transform plutonium from a laboratory novelty into the nuclear weapon that destroyed Nagasaki. This is the first book to weave together the many strands of plutonium s story, explaining not only the science but the people involved.

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Review: Plutonium: A History of the World's Most Dangerous Element

User Review  - Ka Bachelor - Goodreads

A little dry. The book was interesting, but it was written either by a scientist or someone with a scientific background. I did read the book all the way through, hoping that the author would be a ... Read full review

Review: Plutonium: A History of the World's Most Dangerous Element

User Review  - David - Goodreads

Love the personal flavor of the author and the extended quotations of the period chemists. Seeing the real people behind real discoveries is always a joy. Read full review


The History of Uranium
The Periodic Table
Frau Röntgens Hand
Close Calls
Plutonium Goes to War
Los Alamos
Now What?

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Greg Roza
Limited preview - 2008

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