Saturday, October 14, 2006

Before the fall out

Reading historical science books has its own charm. Issac Asimov and Arthur Clarke, though they are scientists themselves, are master story tellers. Their books are highly enjoyable to read by lay men. Some years ago I read Jacob Bronowski's Ascent of man. I consider it as a master piece. In fact he has conducted a guided tour from the earliest invention of wheels to modern scientific discoveries. He has described in detail how Charles Darwin and Arthur Wallace have independently developed an evolution theory that unravel the mystery of birth of mankind in different stages and how Charles Darwin forged ahead at the winning post leaving Arthur Wallace stranded way behind. Our hearts went with unfornute Arthur Wallace. The trial of Gailieo by vatican church is also described in detail by him.
Diana Preston starts with the discovery of radium by Marie Curie. The bomb that exploded in Hiroshima started its journey from Paris. A native of Warsw came to Paris to pursue highier studies in physics and went to win two noble prizes. Newly discovered Bacqurel rays interested her and she decided to do further research on the rays. She was allowed to do her research in School of phycis Lab in Paris. She made her discovery in that lab.The author describes in detail the early struggle by Marie Curie. Then came the revolutionary discovery-structure of atom made by Ruther Ford and Frederic Soddy at Cavendish Labratory. Ruther Ford has shown that atoms can be smashed by radio active paricles.Next important discovery is discovery of the existance of neutron by Chadwick. An american scientist Earnest Lawrence has constructed the first Cyclotron at Berkly in U.S.A.
Diana Preston described the development of atomic physics in various labs- Cavendish lab at England, Heisenburg in Kaiser wilhelm institutes in Germany and Neihl Bohr in Copenhegn till the on set of first world war. When Hitler came to rule Germany he started persecuting the jews. Diana Perston then proceeed to describe the perscution and purge adopted by Nazis in Germany and occupied countries. The pathetic flight of Lisa Meitner, Neil Bohr, Leo slizard a hungerian jew, Enrico Fermi of Italy is depicted in the most gripping manner by the author.

As the war advanced to a crucial stage both Germany and Brition could not further their Atomic research owing to relentless bombing among them. Great Briton pressed America to develop the atomic research and lent their scientsts for the project. Once America was convinced of the feasability of atomic research into weapons, the project was accelerated. The project was named as manhatan project. Colonel Leslie Groves was made as head of the project. Brilliant American scientist Robert Oppenheir, again a jew, was apponted as its Director. Then the author describes in detail how the emigrant scientists, mostly jews, built the SUPER BOMB.

The moral aspects of the Atomic bomb and its effects were also affected the scientists. Leo slizard, Neil Bohr, Robert Oppenheimr have felt great dilema in helping to build the atomic bomb. In fact Leo slizard have devoted his energy and time in convincing the world leaders for limiting the weapons among the nations after the war. The author has devoted an entire chapter at the end asking 'if' what would have happened had the scientists involved in the Atomic bomb prematurely dead before the bomb and similiar other questions. This is one book you should not miss of you are interested in history of Atomic bomb.
" History, even the history of science, is inherently about people how they thought, what they did with their thoughts and how they interactd with the individuals immediately around them, and then with society and then with greater world order."