[Download] ➵ The Fly in the Cathedral: How a Group of Cambridge Scientists Won the International Race to Split the Atom ➾ Brian Cathcart – Peakpopa.info
This book was a fun read The first ten pages were quite bland and I was afraid I didn t really want to continue it, but I like to get past the first chapter before I judge a book After those first few pages, the book picked up and clearly illustrated the inventions, thoughts behind each test, and success and failures I was quite honored to read a well polished book and gain a little knowledge John Banville, writing in the Guardian, described Cathcart s book as unemphatic and, while perhaps it s not as phlegmatic as that might suggest, The Fly in the Cathedral or the gnat in Albert Hall, as Rutherford put it is a good solid account of the 1932 splitting of the atom.The aspect of the book I found most interesting were the descriptions of working life at Cavendish Laboratory, Cambridge, headed up Ernest Rutherford Rutherford comes across as results focused, theory impatient, hurry up and show me something, curious and excitable even in his 60s a biography is high on my reading list Despite his pushing of his staff and students to find stuff out already, under his lead research began around 10am each day, and the lab was firmly locked at 6pm, with the men sent home to read and think On the very rare occasion like, for instance, when you ve just bombarded some lithium with a highly concentrated beam of protons and proved the existence of the neutron the lab might be opened up.I think it s in James Watson s account of the cracking of the gene that Watson observes that this way of working complete with four o clock tea and buns was still in place in the English universities It s so different from how we expect people on the cutting edge of anything to work nowadays, and I find that quite fascinating. Cathcart Tells This Exhilarating Story With Both Verve And Precision The Sunday Telegraph Re Creating The Frustrations, Excitements, And Obsessions Of , The Miracle Year Of British Physics, Brian Cathcart Reveals In Rich Detail The Astonishing Story Behind The Splitting Of The Atom The Most Celebrated Scientific Experiment Of Its Time, It Would Lead To One Of Mankind S Most Devastating Inventions The Atomic Bomb All Matter Is Made Mostly Of Empty Space Each Of The Billions Of Atoms That Comprise It Is Hollow, Its True Mass Concentrated In A Tiny Nucleus That, If The Atom Were A Cathedral, Would Be No Bigger Than A Fly Discovering Its Existence Three Quarters Of A Century Ago Was Lord Rutherford S Greatest Scientific Achievement, But Even He Caught Only A Glimpse Almost At The Point Of Despair, John Cockcroft And Ernest Walton, Two Young Researchers In A Grubby Basement Room At The Famous Cavendish Laboratory In Cambridge, Grappled With The Challenge Racing Against Their American And German Counterparts A Colorful Cast Of Nobel Prize Winners They Would Change Everything With Paper And Pencil Calculations, A Handmade Apparatus, The Odd Lump Of Plasticine, And Some Revolutionary Physics, Cockroft And Walton Raised The Curtain On The Atomic Age The Fly In The Cathedral Is A Riveting And Erudite Narrative Inspired By The Dreams That Lead The Last True Gentlemen Scientists To The Very Essence Of The Universe The Heart Of Matter I was a 16 year old teenager fascinated by physics who knew nothing about nuclear physics and it s research when I got this book as a gift from a freind who knew I loved biographies and science Skip to few months later, I was 16 and a half year old girl who understood the basics of nuclear physics and it s foundation This story got me so interested in the wolrd of nucleus and atoms that I found myself going through many scientific books and youtube lectures in order to find out everything I could about it So, I give this book a big 5 star review because it had such an influence on me that I could never forget it The storytelling is great, the characters are interesting and well developed and I findit after researching the other stories as much as possible to be historically and scientifically as correct as possible The title refers to the nucleus of an atom, which is so small in comparison with the atom, that it is like a fly in a cathedral.The book is an enjoyable history of the early days of nuclear physics roughly 1900 to 1932, told from the perspective of the Cavendish laboratory at Cambridge University The high point of the story is the experiment in 1932 which for the first time split an atomic nucleus and released the energy predicted by Albert Einstein.The book describes the experiments and the theoretical development in an easy going way, but most of the space in the book is given to sketches of the researchers and their families during this period how they lived and worked their joys and frustrations The world of the Cavendish is portrayed its strong chief, Ernest Rutherford, the daily routine at the lab, and the organization and drive that made the laboratory a world leader in the field. A well researched, well told story of the Cavendish lab and the work that culminated in the discovery of the neutron and the splitting of the atom in the early 1930s Experimentation gets short shrift in histories of science as compared to theory, but Ernest Rutherford is as interesting as just about any theorist and using a simple apparatus to essentially visualize the atom itself as Rutherford did in his scattering experiment is about as impressive as any theoretical feat This book takes those as its prelude and focuses on Walton, Cockcroft and to a lesser degree Chadwick and Rutherford s ongoing role.In the process, the book tells the interesting story of the inception of larger scale experimentation that moved beyond tabletop experiments by gentleman scientists to large machinery using large amounts of energy and teams of researchers.The book is thoroughly researched journalistic history that delves deeply into the engineering complexities of building the apparatus than into nuclear physics itself, the only reason for not giving it a full five stars. I found the beginning and the end of this book to be absolutely fascinating The middle 60% of the book was important, to have a full understanding of the story, but slightly boring I also respect the authors caution in describing the temperament of these scientist Some of them seemed to have a very bad rep, but the sources of these rumors were brought into focus A clear sign of honest journalism. An extremely readable account of how the atom was split Cathcart s biggest strength in this book, I think, is the balance between the science and the history characters of the scientists involved The science itself is clearly explained it probably helps that the author isn t a scientist himself and so can easily resist the urge to fall back into jargon and digressions I find a lot of pop sci books struggle with this balance either they re too superficial regarding the science, or they overload it so the reader is struggling in a swamp of often extraneous detail The Fly in the Cathedral is very well done in this regard I felt an emotional connection to the people involved, and I felt I could understand at least on a layperson s level what it was they were doing On top of that, I actually enjoyed reading it Can t ask for much than that. This book is a perfect example of why I love nonfiction Cathcart found an exciting and concise thread to follow to tell the story of the Cambridge scientists who helped open the door to nuclear physics, in particualr the two men who first split an atomic nucleus in a measurable way This was an achievement that can be said to have changed the world.The author does a brilliant job of describing the circumstances, the luck, and the massive effort that led to this feat Painting the picture by describing the other scientists at work in the field at the time an impressive collection , the discoveries that preceeded their success, as well as the basics of the theoretical ideas that affected the work of Cockcroft and Walton, Cathcart successfully lays the foundation for understanding this momentuous achievement in terms that are clear and comprehensible.Anyone with an interest in particle physics, engineering, or simply human ingenuity will enjoy this well paced, thoroughly researched, and elegantly organized book The truly astonishing thing to me in the end was how primitive the equipment was The people pretty much built a particle accelerator with wood, glass and Plasticine And some pioneering transformers from Metro Vick, but still This was quite the enjoyable book about many of the scientists and physics engineers who worked on figuring out how the center of an atom works and the mystery that we now know as a neutron I hadn t realized some of our common x ray, nuclear medicine, and radiology machines were already starting to be developed and thought of during the 1930s While focusing on the team at Cambridge, the other key thought I had was how this work towards figuring out the atom was happening by teams in Germany, United States, and others at the same time and contributions were made by scientists from many countries I hadn t realized how frequently the scientists had international meetings and how they had collaborated with each other Having studied physics, it is amazing to think that what we think of as common place atomic knowledge was barely known or not even figured out then I enjoyed the quote of Ernest Rutherford of We are rather like children, who must take a watch to pieces to see how it works.