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Publisher Description

A “delightfully astute” and “entertaining” history of the mishaps and meltdowns that have marked the path of scientific progress (Kirkus Reviews, starred review).

Radiation: What could go wrong? In short, plenty. From Marie Curie carrying around a vial of radium salt because she liked the pretty blue glow to the large-scale disasters at Chernobyl and Fukushima, dating back to the late nineteenth century, nuclear science has had a rich history of innovative exploration and discovery, coupled with mistakes, accidents, and downright disasters.

In this lively book, long-time advocate of continued nuclear research and nuclear energy James Mahaffey looks at each incident in turn and analyzes what happened and why, often discovering where scientists went wrong when analyzing past meltdowns. Every incident, while taking its toll, has led to new understanding of the mighty atom—and the fascinating frontier of science that still holds both incredible risk and great promise.

Science & Nature
February 4
Pegasus Books
OpenRoad Integrated Media, LLC

Customer Reviews

WhatGoodareNicknames ,

Excellent & entertaining review of bad things that can happen to things nuclear

The author gives straight forward descriptions of some of the most illuminating accidents and incidents in nuclear history. It turns out that the health consequences are not worse than those of other energy sources, but a single accident can economically kill a utility and unfounded fears can kill an industry. We can do better! Small reactor of new types are promising alternatives. Of course the best feature of any new design is that are not yet aware of the operational problems.

A friend who worked at the molten salt plant said that it was the greatest ever.

There are a few inaccuracies about reactor design and policies, but none of these corrupt the stories or invalidate the conclusions.

My only gripe, as an old sodium reactor guy, is that he excoriates the idea without acknowledging that EBR 2 and FFTF ran like champs.

Fpiano ,

Good Writing

Easier to understand than you might think. Although I make no claims to understand everything going on here, the author does a pretty good job explaining the complicated subject in a low key and even funny way. The notes at the end of every chapter were very helpful. It would have also been good to have the photos throughout the book instead of all clumped together at the end.