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Evaluates the potential of nuclear technology as a non-polluting, renewable energy source while describing how nuclear energy's negative association with weapons development and the cold war has stymied the progress of its beneficial uses, in an account that cites atomic science's numerous positive applications throughout history.
“Persuasive and based on deep research. Atomic Awakening taught me a great deal."—Nature The American public's introduction to nuclear technology was manifested in destruction and death. With Hiroshima and the Cold War still ringing in our ears, our perception of all things nuclear is seen through the lens of weapons development. Nuclear power is full of mind-bending theories, deep secrets, and the misdirection of public consciousness, some deliberate, some accidental. The result of this fixation on bombs and fallout is that the development of a non-polluting, renewable energy source stands frozen in time. Outlining nuclear energy's discovery and applications throughout history, Mahaffey's brilliant and accessible book is essential to understanding the astounding phenomenon of nuclear power in an age where renewable energy and climate change have become the defining concerns of the twenty-first century.
Did America really learn to "stop worrying and love the bomb," as the title of Stanley Kubrick's 1964 film, Dr. Strangelove, would have us believe? Does that darkly satirical comedy have anything in common with Martin Luther King Jr.'s impassioned "I Have a Dream" speech or with Elvis Presley's throbbing "I'm All Shook Up"? In Margot Henriksen's vivid depiction of the decades after World War II, all three are expressions of a cultural revolution directly related to the atomic bomb. Although many scientists and other Americans protested the pursuit of nuclear superiority after World War II ended, they were drowned out by Cold War rhetoric that encouraged a "culture of consensus." Nonetheless, Henriksen says, a "culture of dissent" arose, and she traces this rebellion through all forms of popular culture. At first, artists expressed their anger, anxiety, and despair in familiar terms that addressed nuclear reality only indirectly. But Henriksen focuses primarily on new modes of expression that emerged, discussing the disturbing themes of film noir (with extended attention to Alfred Hitchcock) and science fiction films, Beat poetry, rock 'n' roll, and Pop Art. Black humor became a primary weapon in the cultural revolution while literature, movies, and music gave free rein to every possible expression of the generation gap. Cultural upheavals from "flower power" to the civil rights movement accentuated the failure of old values. Filled with fascinating examples of cultural responses to the Atomic Age, Henriksen's book is a must-read for anyone interested in the United States at mid-twentieth century.
A riveting look at how an alternative source of energy is revoluntionising nuclear power, promising a safe and clean future for millions, and why thorium was sidelined at the height of the Cold War In this groundbreaking account of an energy revolution in the making, award-winning science writer Richard Martin introduces us to thorium, a radioactive element and alternative nuclear fuel that is far safer, cleaner, and more abundant than uranium. At the dawn of the Atomic Age, thorium and uranium seemed to be in close competition as the fuel of the future. Uranium, with its ability to undergo fission and produce explosive material for atomic weapons, won out over its more pacific sister element, relegating thorium to the dustbin of science. Now, as we grapple with the perils of nuclear energy and rogue atomic weapons, and mankind confronts the specter of global climate change, thorium is re-emerging as the overlooked energy source as a small group of activists and outsiders is working, with the help of Silicon Valley investors, to build a thorium-power industry. In the first book mainstream book to tackle these issues, Superfuel is a story of rediscovery of a long lost technology that has the power to transform the world's future, and the story of the pacifists, who were sidelined in favour of atomic weapon hawks, but who can wean us off our fossil-fuel addiction and avert the risk of nuclear meltdown for ever.
--THE NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER-- 'An invaluable contribution to history.' Serhii Plokhy, Evening Standard 'Tells the story of the disaster and its gruesome aftermath with thriller-like flair. Midnight in Chernobyl is wonderful and chilling ... written with skill and passion.' Luke Harding, The Observer 'Superb, enthralling and necessarily terrifying... every step feels spring-loaded with tension... extraordinary.' The New York Times The story of Chernobyl is more complex, more human, and more terrifying than the Soviet myth. Adam Higginbotham has written a harrowing and compelling narrative which brings the 1986 disaster to life through the eyes of the men and women who witnessed it firsthand. Drawing on hundreds of hours of interviews conducted over the course of more than ten years, as well as letters, unpublished memoirs, and documents from recently-declassified archives, this book makes for a masterful non-fiction thriller. Chernobyl has become lodged in the collective nightmares of the world: shorthand for the spectral horrors of radiation poisoning, for a dangerous technology slipping its leash, for ecological fragility, and for what can happen when a dishonest and careless state endangers not only its own citizens, but all of humanity. It is a story that has long remained in dispute, clouded from the beginning in secrecy, propaganda, and misinformation. Midnight In Chernobyl is an indelible portrait of history's worst nuclear disaster, of human resilience and ingenuity and the lessons learned when mankind seeks to bend the natural world to his will - lessons which, in the face of climate change and other threats - remain not just vital but necessary. Now, Higginbotham brings us closer to the truth behind this colossal tragedy.
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.
It’s an astonishing fact that capturing all the energy in just one hour’s worth of sunlight would enable us to meet the planet’s food and energy needs for an entire year. The Solar Revolution tells the story of how scientists are working to reconnect us to the ‘solar economy’, harnessing the power of the sun to provide sustainable food and energy for a global population of 10 billion people: an achievement that would end our dependence on ‘fossilised sunshine’ in the form of coal, oil and gas and remake our connection with the soil that grows our food. Steve McKevitt and Tony Ryan describe the human race’s complex relationship with the sun and take us back through history to see how our world became the place it is today – chemically, geologically, ecologically, climatically and economically – before moving on to the cutting-edge science and technology that will enable us to live happily in a sustainable future.

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