Tag Archives: Atomic Energy

The Age of Radiance

The Age of Radiance: The Epic Rise and Dramatic Fall of the Atomic Era by Craig Nelson (author of Rocket Men: The Epic Story of the First Men on the Moon) is a well done history of the atomic age. If you are a bit squeamish (justifiably I’m sure) about the nuclear industry or nuclear stuff generally you’ll find Nelson’s dismissal of your concerns as the product of a public relations fail on the part of the nuclear industry to be patronizing and annoying, but there isn’t too much of that in the book, and he’s partly right; most fears people have about nuclear energy are not especially accurate, but then again, that applies to all fears all the time, it seems. Nuclear power does not have as much of a power to make people stupid as nuclear power advocates suggest. But I digress…

…. this is a biography of an important age in our history, one that we are currently leaving but will still be with us for hundreds of thousands of years, seeping into the groundwater. It is a fascinating story. I mean, seriously, the whole idea of nuclear physics is fascinating. Everything we knew about everything prior to the discoveries related to the cracking of the atom have two important characteristics: 1) almost off of that applies perfectly to the world around us (basic chemistry and Newtonian physics) and 2) it is all wrong. The opening days of the nuclear age involved that remarkable discovery. There was research, radiation, x-rays, then bombs and power generation. The cold war, terrorism, accidents. Nelson’s book is, really, just full of interesting stories.