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A gripping narrative of nuclear mishaps and meltdowns around the globe, all of which have proven pivotal to the advancement of nuclear science.
From the moment radiation was discovered in the late nineteenth century, nuclear science has had a rich history of innovative scientific exploration and discovery, coupled with mistakes, accidents, and downright disasters. Mahaffey, a long-time advocate of continued nuclear research and nuclear energy, looks at each incident in turn and analyzes what happened and why, often discovering where scientists went wrong when analyzing past meltdowns. Every incident has lead to new facets in understanding about the mighty atom—and Mahaffey puts forth what the future should be for this final frontier of science that still holds so much promise.
James Mahaffey was senior research scientist at the Georgia Tech Research Institute and has worked at the Defense Nuclear Agency, the National Ground Intelligence Center, and the Air Force Air Logistics Center, focusing on nuclear power, nano-technology, and cold fusion. He is the author of Atomic Awakening and lives in Atlanta, Georgia.
“It’s weird and fun, a rather technical compendium of nuclear mishaps that appears to have been tweaked by Ziggy Stardust for maximum weirdness: clueless hunters wandering into caves teeming with radon-222, fervid dreams of nuclear jets, reactors bucking like steeds unused to human contact. … Mahaffey, a nuclear engineer, keeps things appropriately dramatic. … Truly valuable.” Newsweek
“Mahaffey (Atomic Awakening), a former senior research scientist at the Georgia Tech Research Institute, employs his extensive knowledge of nuclear engineering to produce a volume that is by turns alarming, thought-provoking, humorous, and always fascinating. More pointedly, despite the anxiety generated by disasters and media hype, fossil fuel power generation can be directly linked to 4,000 times more deaths than nuclear power, and contributes heavily to global climate change. Mahaffey’s goal is not to alarm or titillate but to underscore that there is a steep learning curve in understanding these disasters and that they are a natural consequence of increasing our knowledge of nuclear engineering. ” Publishers Weekly
“Mahaffey guides us through more than a century of atomic research, including misadventures with radioactive elixirs (“The radium water worked fine until his jaw came off,” reads a 1932 headline) and long-forgotten accidents at enrichment plants…The compelling tales unravel like slow-motion horror stories, spiraling towards disasters we know are coming.” Mark Peplow Nature
“Part detective story, part documentary, part diabolical murder mystery, James Mahaffey’s latest non-fiction thriller, Atomic Accidents details the mistakes associated with all sorts of atomic devices, designs and decisions gone awry. As much a pleasure to read as it is instantly educating, Atomic Accidents is essential reading for anyone curious about the inherent intricacies involved with unstable atomic reactors, how they got that way and what should be done about them. Travel back through time and relive the history of the nuclear timeline with the inimitable Dr. Mahaffey as your competent guide. Atomic Accidents belongs at the top of your “Books To Read” list if you want to know what really happened way back then, now and what will likely happen in the future. Enjoy.” Nuclear Street
“Mahaffey writes with delightful witty prose. A surprisingly entertaining history of nuclear power.” Kirkus Reviews, STARRED REVIEW