History, Science, Vital Uses and Ominous Peril

3rd Edition - August 1, 2022

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  • Author: Michael F. L'Annunziata
  • Paperback ISBN: 9780323904407

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Radioactivity: History, Science, Vital Uses and Ominous Peril, Third Edition provides an introduction to radioactivity, the building blocks of matter, the fundamental forces in nature, and the role of quarks and force carrier particles. This new edition adds material on the dichotomy between the peaceful applications of radioactivity and the threat to the continued existence of human life from the potential use of more powerful and sophisticated nuclear weapons. The book includes a current review of studies on the probability of nuclear war and treaties, nonproliferation and disarmament, along with historical insights into the achievements of over 100 pioneers and Nobel Laureates. Through multiple worked examples, the book answers many questions for the student, teacher and practitioner as to the origins, properties and practical applications of radioactivity in fields such as medicine, biological and environmental research, industry, safe nuclear power free of greenhouse gases and nuclear fusion.

Key Features

  • Includes new content that explains the vital benefits that nuclear technology provides and the need to be aware and involved in worldwide efforts toward the reduction of nuclear weapon stockpiles and the elimination of the threat of nuclear weapons
  • Provides context and insights on key research over the past three centuries, placing radioactivity in real-world contexts
  • Supports learning via multiple solved problems that answer practical questions concerning nuclear decay, nuclear radiation and the interaction of nuclear radiation with matter


Chemists (especially physical and nuclear), physicists, and all scientists interested in radioactivity, nuclear and particle physics, and nuclear energy. Upper division undergraduates through graduate-level students and teachers in these fields

Table of Contents

  • Part 1. History of Discovery
    1. Birth of Modern Physics: From the Discovery of Radioactivity to the Discovery of the Proton, Electron and Atomic Nucleus
    2. Birth of Quantum Physics: From Planck’s Quantum to Einstein’s Photon, de Broglie’s Wave-Particle Duality and Stern and Gerlach’s Electron Spin States
    3. Revelations in Nuclear Decay Processes: From Soddy’s Displacement Law to Fermi’s Beta Decay
    4. Discoveries on the Interaction of Radiation with Matter: From X-ray diffraction to the Compton Effect
    5. Era of Cherenkov Radiation Discoveries: From the Discovery of Cherenkov Radiation to the Characterization of the Cherenkov Effect
    6. Cosmic Discoveries: From the Discovery of Cosmic Rays to the Component Particles and Properties of the Cosmic Radiation Showers
    7. Nuclear Era: From the Discovery of the Neutron to Nuclear Fission, Nuclear Energy and Nuclear Non-proliferation
    8. Breakthroughs in Nuclear Properties, Nuclear Stability and Accelerators: From Magic Numbers to Magnetic Resonance, and the Discovery of the Antinucleons
    9. Era of Particle Physics and the Role of Fundamental Particles in Beta Decay: From the Discovery of Particles, Advances in our Understanding of Particle Interactions and Beta Decay, and the Structure of Matter

    Part 2. Elements of Nuclear and Radiation Physics
    10. Basic Concepts and Definitions
    11. Alpha Radiation
    12. Beta Radiation and Beta Decay
    13. Electromagnetic Radiation: Photons
    14. Neutron Radiation
    15. Atomic Electron Radiation
    16. Cosmic Radiation
    17. Cherenkov Radiation
    18. Radionuclide Decay, Radioactivity Units, and Radionuclide Mass
    19. The Atomic Nucleus

    Epilogue: The Threat of Nuclear Weapons
    Appendix A: Alpha- and Beta-particle/Electron Range-Energy Correlations
    Appendix B: Lorentz Transformations

Product details

  • No. of pages: 1110
  • Language: English
  • Copyright: © Elsevier 2022
  • Published: August 1, 2022
  • Imprint: Elsevier
  • Paperback ISBN: 9780323904407

About the Author

Michael F. L'Annunziata

Michael F. L'Annunziata
Michael F. L'Annunziata earned his PhD degree in 1970 at the University of Arizona. His thesis research in the 1960s under contract with the then-US Atomic Energy Commission dealt with the analysis of radionuclides and chemical remediation of the environment in the event of fission product fallout from nuclear war. L'Annunziata was formerly Head of Fellowships and Training at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in Vienna, Austria; and he has served as a representative and lecturer for the IAEA on peaceful applications of nuclear energy for development in over 40 countries of the world from 1976-2007 and currently a private consultant in radioactivity analysis.

Affiliations and Expertise

Former Head, IAEA Fellowships and Training, Vienna, Austria; Current office: Oceanside, CA, USA

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