Big Science: Ernest Lawrence and the Invention That Launched the Military-Industrial Complex

13 CDs. 14:45 hrs. HighBridge. 2015. ISBN 9781622318872. $44.99. SCI
Hiltzik (The New Deal) presents a solid biohistory of Ernest Orlando Lawrence (1901–58), whose famous 1932 invention, the cyclotron, revolutionized scientific understanding of the fundamentals of nuclear physics. Lawrence won the 1939 Nobel Prize in physics for inventing the first particle accelerator capable of achieving high energies. The author reveals how his subject played the key role in solving for the Manhattan Project the problem of uranium-isotope separation. Hiltzik's dense analysis reveals fascinating details of Lawrence's legacy in nuclear research and provides an important explanation of how the physicist strongly influenced the beginnings nearly 90 years ago of the intricate world of government-supported science laboratories now known as the "military-industrial complex." Narrator Bob Souer's steady-paced reading nicely complements this complex story. The work would be a useful supplement to Richard Rhodes's classics Making of the Atomic Bomb and Dark Sun: The Making of the Hydrogen Bomb. As Hiltzik makes clear, without Lawrence's cyclotron, the nuclear age would never have begun.
VERDICT This work's heavy emphasis on historical detail and accuracy makes it a sure bet for anyone interested in nuclear physics or the history of science.
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