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Radioactive!: How Irène Curie and…

Radioactive!: How Irène Curie and Lise Meitner Revolutionized…

by Winifred Conkling

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Conkling tells the complex and mostly forgotten story of two famous scientists who were also women. Irene Curie, the daughter of more famous Marie Curie, was a brilliant scientist in her own right but was denied recognition by the male scientists of the day. However, she continued to research despite discouragements and survived the both world wars. Largely overshadowed today by her more famous mother, her own accomplishments should be more than enough to give her standing in her famous family.

Lise Meitner has a much more tragic story; denied entry into the masculine world of science, she nevertheless carved out a niche for herself and eventually came to earn a measure of success and even some slight acceptance. All of that ended with Hitler's rise to power and Meitner's accomplishments were overshadowed and deliberately erased by her long-time colleagues and by the upset and destruction of war.

The discoveries of Curie and Meitner led to the creation of the atom bomb, although both refused to be involved in using their discoveries for war. It's interesting to contrast the lives of these women, who both stayed true to their principles in different ways, with the scientists who became involved in the use of atomic power for weapons.

The science in the book is explained along the way as needed and even I could follow along (I somehow missed out on physics in both high school and college. Oops.) Conkling's research into science, history, and the politics of the time period is shown in the careful writing style, which frequently refers to original documents and takes the time to explain the context of actions and behavior of the many protagonists.

Verdict: This is not a fast-paced adventure story; Although there are moments of peril and danger, it's mostly a thoughtful discussion of the role Irene Curie and Lise Meitner played not only in the development of scientific discoveries but also in the involvement of women in science. It will take a little additional booktalking to get kids used to constant action to read this, but older, more mature middle grade and teen readers will be intrigued and enlightened by this dual biography. It's going to be available in paperback next year and I will certainly be adding it to my nonfiction section then.

ISBN: 9781616204150; Published 2016 by Algonquin; Borrowed from another library in my consortium
  JeanLittleLibrary | Sep 10, 2016 |
RADIOACTIVE: HOW IRENE CURIE AND LISE MEITNER REVOLUTIONIZED SCIENCE AND CHANGED THE WORLD by Winifred Conkling tells the true story of two women who made significant contributions to science.

This important biography traces the often overlooked role of two female physicists who made major discoveries related to artificial radiation and nuclear fission. The story stresses the challenges facing female scientists in the 20th century.

Informational boxes provide related scientific background text and visuals. Although photographs and other illustrations add interest to the text, additional primary sources would have been useful. The book concludes with a timeline, glossary, notes, bibliography, additional sources, and an index.

Librarians will find this engaging nonfiction narrative to be an excellent addition to the library’s STEM biography collection. The focus on women’s roles will be particularly popular with middle school girls.

To learn more about the author, go to http://www.winifredconkling.com/.

Published by Algonquin, an imprint of Workman Publishing on January 5, 2016. ARC courtesy of the publisher. ( )
  eduscapes | Feb 10, 2016 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 161620415X, Hardcover)

The fascinating, little-known story of how two brilliant female physicists’ groundbreaking discoveries led to the creation of the atomic bomb.

In 1934, Irène Curie, working with her husband and fellow scientist, Frederic Joliot, made a discovery that would change the world: artificial radioactivity. This breakthrough allowed scientists to modify elements and create new ones by altering the structure of atoms. Curie shared a Nobel Prize with her husband for their work. But when she was nominated to the French Academy of Sciences, the academy denied her admission and voted to disqualify all women from membership. Four years later, Curie’s breakthrough led physicist Lise Meitner to a brilliant leap of understanding that unlocked the secret of nuclear fission. Meitner’s unique insight was critical to the revolution in science that led to nuclear energy and the race to build the atom bomb, yet her achievement was left unrecognized by the Nobel committee in favor of that of her male colleague.

Radioactive! presents the story of two women breaking ground in a male-dominated field, scientists still largely unknown despite their crucial contributions to cutting-edge research, in a nonfiction narrative that reads with the suspense of a thriller. Photographs and sidebars illuminate and clarify the science in the book.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 13 Jul 2015 18:41:34 -0400)

"The ... little-known story of how two brilliant female physicists' groundbreaking discoveries led to the creation of the atomic bomb"--Amazon.com.

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