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Atom Paperback – 1 May 2008

4.3 out of 5 stars 27 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Icon Books Ltd (1 May 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1840468734
  • ISBN-13: 978-1840468731
  • Product Dimensions: 13.4 x 1.6 x 20.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 447,374 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

"'Bizony brings an enthusiasm to his subject that elevates it to high drama, and shows how after even after two centuries we are still being confronted with bizarre discoveries and questions in this brand of science.' Good Book Guide 'Bizony's insightful, compelling book chronicles our quest to understand the atom through the personalities of those who looked furthest into its abyss - a human drama wrought with frustration, love, guilt and genius.' New Scientist"

Review

"'Bizony brings an enthusiasm to his subject that elevates it to high drama, and shows how after even after two centuries we are still being confronted with bizarre discoveries and questions in this brand of science.' Good Book Guide 'Bizony's insightful, compelling book chronicles our quest to understand the atom through the personalities of those who looked furthest into its abyss - a human drama wrought with frustration, love, guilt and genius.' New Scientist"

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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I only recently saw a rerun of the BBC television series on 'Atom' which was presented by Jim Al-Khalili. I have seen his other series on Chemistry and I thought both were excellent. I cannot understand why the BBC has not released Atom as a DVD.

On the book Atom, it is worth pointing out that this is written by the science writer Piers Bizony, with Jim Al-Khalili simply providing a Forward and being a sounding board for the author.

That said, this is a very readable and informative introduction to a number of issues (but not all) presented in the television series. If you want to study details about the physics of atoms, radiation and its associated theories, then pick up a text book on the subject. Neither the television series nor this book are trying to go into that level of depth. Instead, they offer an historical overview about how human understanding of the atom has developed through time, complete with an insight into most of the key personalities along the way.

The prose is not so simplistic as to become superficial about the science. My sense is that this book is best described as a history of scientific ideas, where the ideas are explained in an understandable manner for the non-scientist. The key characters in this story play out their roles against the evolving backdrop of political change: the relative innocence of the Edwardian era is replaced by a growing realisation that after 1932 the atom truly holds the kind of power spoken about by Einstein in his famous equation e=mc2. The rise of the Nazis in Germany and fascism in Italy sees a host of scientists leave Europe's shores for the USA, where their knowledge is put to work on the Manhatten Project. The arms race is on to build the atom bomb before the Nazis.
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Format: Hardcover
I was hooked on the T.V series, which this book accompanies, and enthralled by the book, which I could not put down.My only disappointment was that the book did not cover the latter parts of the the T.V progamme in its foray into string theory and the cutting edge of contempoary physics. Having an interest in quantum physics, and the philosophy of science, (but not an education in physics to support it)I found that this book offers a coherent and comprehensible history of the development of ideas about the nature of the atom, which serves as an invaluable set of building blocks,from which to fashion a foundation of a better grasp of contemporary theory.I will certainly be buying the book by the same author on Quantum Theory.
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Format: Hardcover
It can be difficult for a layman to find material on Atomic physics which is entertaining, stimulating and which also has enough depth to enable you to walk away and say 'Oh - now I understand!'. Al-Khalili's book is deep enough to enable you to understand the gradual build-up of theory and how everything fit into everything that went before it. The biographies of the lead scientists enable the reader to see how a theory was part of a place and time and how new propositions were made on the basis of the thinking at the time. More importantly there is that sense of wonder, good humour and genuine reflective insight that make the best science books highly accessible but also highly informative. Certainly an excellent choice for the layman (me) and I would expect for those students who feel their lecturers suppose everyone to have walked in the door with ten years previous research experience!
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Format: Hardcover
Picked this book up after watching the TV series, wasn't expecting much to be honest but I was more than pleasantly surprised.

Entertaining read, gripping in parts, really brings the drama and the science alive and creates a foundational knowledge of atomic theory to build from.

good book!
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Format: Hardcover
For a layperson like myself who has no knowledge of the subject of Atomic physics (or any other science subject) and yet was gripped by the BBC series 'Atom', this book was the perfect partner to the series. Piers Bizony has made this mind-boggling subject understandable (almost) and very, very enjoyable.A wonderful book which I read at one sitting and I'm now eager for more.
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Format: Paperback
This rather short book attempts to tell the story of man's discovery of the atom and all that pertains to it in simplistic terms. By and large it succeeds, but the field is so vast and complex that any 200 page book can be nothing more than a summary. The people we meet are cardboard cut-outs, with little or no personality expressed and the ideas are stripped to the bare minimum. Nonetheless it is well written and easy to follow and to understand. In a subject as complex as this there is room for a range of books, from 'Atom' through to Stephen Hawking's 'Brief History'. I suspect that rather more people will actually read 'Atom', so that has to be a plus for the book. Recommended but with reservations.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Fortunately I only paid one new penny for this book - OK postage was £2.80, but hey, it could have been worse. I was very disappointed, as Al-Kalili is usually pretty good on TV. However when I saw this volume was originally an accompaniament to a TV series, my heart sank. It has very few diagrams, no equations and nothing much in the way of science. It's all people and personalities, and it went in the bin.
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