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Riddled with jealousy, rivalry, missed opportunities and moments of genius, the history of the atom’s discovery is as bizarre, as capricious, and as weird as the atom itself.
John Dalton gave us the first picture of the atom in the early 1800s. Almost 100 years later the young misfit New Zealander, Ernest Rutherford, showed the atom consisted mostly of space, and in doing so overturned centuries of classical science. It was a brilliant Dane, Neils Bohr, who made the next great leap into the incredible world of quantum theory. Yet, he and a handful of other revolutionary young scientists weren't prepared for the shocks Nature had up her sleeve.
This insightful, compelling’ book (New Scientist) reveals the mind-bending discoveries that were destined to upset everything we thought we knew about reality and unleash a dangerous new force upon the world. Even today, as we peer deeper and deeper into the atom, it throws back as many questions at us as answers.
Piers Bizony is a science journalist and space historian who writes for magazines such as Focus and Wired, as well as the Independent. His award-winning book on Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey was described as 'full of sparkling enthusiasm' by the New Scientist.
Jim Al-Khalili is a British theoretical physicist, author and broadcaster. He has presented a number of science programmes on television including The Science of Doctor Who for BBC America and is a frequent presenter of The Life Scientific on BBC Radio 4.