By Diana Preston
In 1898, Marie Curie first defined a phenomenon she known as "radioactivity." A half-century later, physicists may stand earlier than sunrise within the New Mexico wasteland, slathering themselves with sunscreen-and fearing that the upcoming attempt detonation may perhaps 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 unencumber the secrets and techniques of the cloth international; of the scientists-Rutherford, Bohr, Einstein, Oppenheimer-who outfitted 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 worldwide uncertainty that emerged in its wake. With the readability of serious technological know-how writing, the vividness of ancient narrative and the perception of biography, Before the Fallout is an unforgettable and sweeping account of the medical discovery that modified the realm.
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Extra info for Before the Fall-Out: From Marie Curie to Hiroshima
The resulting wound, as he observed with interest, took months to heal. In his detailed report on it he added that 'Madame Curie, in carrying a few centigrams of very active material in a little sealed tube, received analogous burns . ' These effects sparked the thought in Pierre Curie's mind that radium could, perhaps, be used to destroy cancerous cells, and he began to work with physicians. 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.
Hiroshima would again become a major port of embarkation. Its citizens cheered the departing troops and nursed the returning wounded. Kimono-clad members of the Shinshu Aki Women's Association met in Hiroshima's Honganji Temple where, kneeling decorously back on their heels, they rolled more than ninety thousand bandages to bind the soldiers' wounds. They rejoiced at news of Japanese success. The Russian Baltic Fleet sailed round the world to ignominious destruction at the battle of Tsushima by the Japanese fleet commanded by Admiral Togo.
Nevertheless, he and Mary welcomed research students to tea. It was a friendly atmosphere; Rutherford talked and blew clouds of smoke from the ubiquitous pipe which Mary reluctantly but indulgently allowed him to smoke. As a letter to her from Rutherford in 1896 shows, she had initially been strongly opposed to the habit. Rutherford pleaded, A good long time ago, I gave you a promise I would not smoke . . but I am now seriously considering whether I ought not, for my own sake, to take to tobacco in a mild degree.
Before the Fall-Out: From Marie Curie to Hiroshima by Diana Preston