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Superheavy: Making and Breaking the Periodic Table (2019)

door Kit Chapman

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242739,445 (4.25)1
An in-depth look at how elements are discovered, why they matter and where they will take us. The science of element discovery is a truly fascinating field, and is constantly rewriting the laws of chemistry and physics as we know them. Superheavy is the first book to take an in-depth look at how synthetic elements are discovered, why they matter and where they will take us. From the Cold War nuclear race to the present day, scientists have stretched the periodic table to 118 elements. They have broken the rules of the periodic table, rewriting the science we're taught in school, and have the potential to revolutionize our lives. Kit Chapman takes us back to the very beginning, with the creation of the atomic bomb. He tells the story of the major players, such as Ernest Lawrence who revolutionized the field of particle physics with the creation of the cyclotron; Yuri Oganessian, the "guerilla scientist" who opened up a new era of discovery in the field and is the only living scientists to have an element named after him; and Victor Ninov, the disgraced physicist who almost pulled off the greatest fraud in nuclear science. This book will bring us in a full circle back to Oak Bridge National Laboratory, where the first atomic bomb was developed, and that has more recently been an essential player in creating the new superheavy element 117. Throughout, Superheavy explains the complex science of element discovery in clear and easy-to-follow terms. It walks through the theories of atomic structure, discusses the equipment used and explains the purpose of the research. By the end of the book readers will not only marvel at how far we've come, they will be in awe of where we are going and what this could mean for the worlds of physics and chemistry as we know them today.… (meer)

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It's the International Year of the Periodic Table, and I can't think of a better book to mark the occasion than Kit Chapman's gripping and intriguing history of the quest to create new elements. There are anecdotes here that will delight, surprise, inspire and frustrate, woven together with the kind of page-turning momentum you'd expect from an adventure novel At its core, though, it's a story about a particular tribe of scientists, and the lives, rivalries and alliances that they forged as they pushed back one of the great frontiers of knowledge. Those two facets can't have been easy to balance, but Chapman has succeeded in turning this under-appreciated topic in to an effortless, fun, but by no means superficial book. ( )
  sockatume | Aug 5, 2019 |
Superheavy is an interesting and engaging review of how the periodic table was populated with the synthetic elements. Chapman writes in a conversational prose that is easy to follow and captures the personality of the scientists involved. He clearly explains the processed involved in creating new elements, and gives credit to both the chemists and physicists involved. All too often, the realm of nuclear reactors is thought to be the exclusive province of theoretical physicists, but Chapman shows how different skills were necessary to create and characterize the heavy elements. The book captures the successes, failures, lucky guesses and mistakes (because science involves all of these) and provides a book that should stand next to the perennial classic, Richard Rhodes' The Making of the Atomic Bomb. This is a must read for all scholars of scientific history as well as students eager to understand more about the nature of the periodic table.

I received a digital ARC via NetGalley ( )
  Spencer28 | Jun 2, 2019 |
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An in-depth look at how elements are discovered, why they matter and where they will take us. The science of element discovery is a truly fascinating field, and is constantly rewriting the laws of chemistry and physics as we know them. Superheavy is the first book to take an in-depth look at how synthetic elements are discovered, why they matter and where they will take us. From the Cold War nuclear race to the present day, scientists have stretched the periodic table to 118 elements. They have broken the rules of the periodic table, rewriting the science we're taught in school, and have the potential to revolutionize our lives. Kit Chapman takes us back to the very beginning, with the creation of the atomic bomb. He tells the story of the major players, such as Ernest Lawrence who revolutionized the field of particle physics with the creation of the cyclotron; Yuri Oganessian, the "guerilla scientist" who opened up a new era of discovery in the field and is the only living scientists to have an element named after him; and Victor Ninov, the disgraced physicist who almost pulled off the greatest fraud in nuclear science. This book will bring us in a full circle back to Oak Bridge National Laboratory, where the first atomic bomb was developed, and that has more recently been an essential player in creating the new superheavy element 117. Throughout, Superheavy explains the complex science of element discovery in clear and easy-to-follow terms. It walks through the theories of atomic structure, discusses the equipment used and explains the purpose of the research. By the end of the book readers will not only marvel at how far we've come, they will be in awe of where we are going and what this could mean for the worlds of physics and chemistry as we know them today.

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