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The essential guide to radiation: the good, the bad, and the utterly fascinating, explained with unprecedented clarity.
Earth, born in a nuclear explosion, is a radioactive planet; without radiation, life would not exist. And while radiation can be dangerous, it is also deeply misunderstood and often mistakenly feared. Now Robert Peter Gale, M.D,—the doctor to whom concerned governments turned in the wake of the Chernobyl and Fukushima disasters—in collaboration with medical writer Eric Lax draws on an exceptional depth of knowledge to correct myths and establish facts.
Exploring what have become trigger words for anxiety—nuclear energy and nuclear weapons, uranium, plutonium, iodine-131, mammogram, X-ray, CT scan, threats to the food chain—the authors demystify the science and dangers of radiation, and examine its myriad benefits, from safely sterilizing our food to the relatively low-risk fuel alternative of nuclear energy. This is the book for all readers who have asked themselves questions such as: What kinds of radiation, and what degree of exposure, cause cancer? What aftereffects have nuclear accidents and bombs had? Does radiation increase the likelihood of birth defects? And how does radiation work?
Hugely illuminating, Radiation is the definitive road map to our post-Chernobyl, post-Fukushima world.
Oncologist and bone marrow transplant specialist Gale (Final Warning: The Legacy of Chernobyl, with Thomas Hauser) has ventured into the world's top "hot spots" Chernobyl and Fukushima and emerged to assure us that our worries about radiation are disproportionate to actual risks. With science writer and biographer Lax (Woody Allen: A Biography), Gale tackles the complicated science of radiobiology to quell unfounded fears and help readers weigh the risks and benefits of nuclear technologies. Taking on some of our more common anxieties, Gale shows there's no evidence that microwaves, cell phones, or LED watches increase the risk of cancer, that going through airport scanners is dangerous, or that irradiated food is radioactive. And though he notes that the U.S. must be careful about how it utilizes nuclear energy, Gale notes that coal-fired plants produce three times more radiation than do nuclear power stations. He also insists that despite the real dangers of nuclear terrorism, radiation saves more lives than it harms, citing its use as an important anticancer therapy. Gale's is an invaluable guide for negotiating an increasingly radioactive world for scientists, patients of radiation-related medical procedures, and environmentalists alike.