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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Reads like a detective novel, 23 Jun 2007
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This review is from: The Magic Furnace: The Search for the Origins of Atoms (Paperback)
I completed a physics degree at Leeds University 22yrs ago. They taught us astrophysics. I could do the equations, but couldn't see a big picture. This book gives the picture of how our atoms were made, why we know how they were made, inspite of the billions of years and light years we are from the atomic furnaces. It starts with Democritus, and ends with supernovae. In between, Marcus Chown takes the reader through all the significant scientific discoveries. He gets down into the personal details of the researchers, what they were up against, what they had at their disposal. He makes clear the bizarre connection between particle-physics and astrophysics. Each sub-chapter is headed by a snappy title, a bit like the scene-descriptions in silent movies. For me, two of the crucial facts he got across are: the significance of Iron-56; and Fred Hoyle's bold but crucial claim of the existence of a yet undiscovered excited state of ionised Carbon-12. Read this and you will know why scientist really do know much of what is going on inside of stars.
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