Atomic Adventures by James Mahaffey

Atomic Adventures: Secret Islands, Forgotten N-Rays, and Isotopic MurderAtomic Adventures: Secret Islands, Forgotten N-Rays, and Isotopic Murder by James Mahaffey
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

You probably need to have a strong science interest and education to enjoy this book. The title should use the word misadventures, rather than adventures. It describes a number of nuclear projects, experiments, or cockamamie ideas that failed for one reason or another. Two chapters are spent on cold fusion, for example, an idea that the author himself admitted took him in long enough for him to “confirm” its existence, only to discover that the “proof” of its existence was simply an instrumentation error. The book is written with a degree of wit, especially in the numerous footnotes, which are often more entertaining than the main text.

I enjoyed the book and recommend it to the non-physicsphobic. I did catch one error in the book. In Chapter 10 he describes the three-filter phenomenon, which involves polarized filters. He says that if you take two polarized filters and rotate them 180 degrees to each other you will block out all light. He meant 90 degrees. He then goes on to say the third filter should be oriented at a 45 degree angle, halfway between the other two. 45 is halfway between 0 and 90, not 0 and 180 confirming that the earlier 180 was a simple error.

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