By Diana Preston
In 1898, Marie Curie first defined a phenomenon she referred to as "radioactivity." A half-century later, physicists may stand sooner than sunrise within the New Mexico wasteland, slathering themselves with sunscreen-and fearing that the approaching try detonation could ignite Earth's surroundings in a cataclysmic chain response and rework our planet right into a burning star.
This is the epic tale of Curie's quest to liberate the secrets and techniques of the cloth global; of the scientists-Rutherford, Bohr, Einstein, Oppenheimer-who equipped 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 world uncertainty that emerged in its wake. With the readability of serious technology 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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Additional resources for Before the Fall-Out: From Marie Curie to Hiroshima
Britain was involved in the long struggle with the Boers of South Africa. The cause was partly for foreigners' rights in the Boer republics, but also partly about control of the Rand diamond fields. ' Japan was still largely unknown to the West, but she had been modernizing rapidly since the Meiji Restoration 'A RABBIT FROM THE ANTIPODES' 55 in 1868. 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'.
Thomson's work suggested an alternative vision the instability of matter - to that of the indivisible atom. It was revolutionary stuff. Since the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries most leading scientists, including Newton, had believed the atom to be the smallest unit of matter. * In the early nineteenth century the English Quaker scientist John Dalton had defined the atomic theory that in J. J. Thomson's day remained the orthodox view. This stated that atoms were the basic and smallest units of matter.
Radium was first used in radiotherapy - known as 'Curietherapy' in France - as early as 1903 to treat cancers but also such conditions as the skin disease lupus, strawberry marks and granulations of the eyelids. A number of treatments evolved, ranging from washing in a solution of radium to injections of radium and drinking radium 'tonics'. The treatment for cancer was to place tiny glass or platinum tubes containing radium directly next to the malignant cells. The Curies, though, derived no personal financial benefit from the 'miracle' substance.