Two Women and the Atom Bomb

Radioactive!: How Irene Curie and Lise Meitner Revolutionized Science and Changed the World, Winifred Conkling, Algonquin, January, 2016 – Review by Larry

Excellent non-fiction book for grade 7 and up on Irene Curie, Lise Meitner and their discoveries that led to the creation of the atomic bomb. Curie, working with her husband, Fredric Joliot, discovered how to create artificial radioactivity, which allowed scientists to modify elements and create new ones by altering the structure of atoms. This led to Meitner’s work in nuclear fission – which ultimately led to the race to build the atom bomb.

This is an engrossing read that takes us from science laboratories to the battlefields of the First World War and onward, as European scientists attempt to keep their atomic secrets from Hitler. Mostly, however, it is about these two amazing women who broke ground in a male-dominated field.

With thriller-like pace, this book is good for understanding our world, our recent history, and the lives of famous people. Photographs and sidebars clarify the scientific terms and theory as it unfolds during the story, making the book a great encouragement for young scientists, especially girls.

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