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Megawatts and Megatons: A Turning Point in the Nuclear Age?
Synopses & Reviews
Book News Annotation:
Physicists Garwin, winner of the 1996 Enrico Fermi Award, and Charpak, a 1992 Nobel Prize winner, analyze the interlinked futures of nuclear energy and nuclear weaponry. Arguing for arms control, they also describe how reactors can provide an economically feasible supply of energy that is environmentally responsible and avoids the hazards of weapons proliferation. The work is "substantially based" on the authors' aires/>, published in 1997 in France, a nation that now derives about 80 percent of its electricity from nuclear reactors.
Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
In Megawatts and Megatons, worldrenowned physicists Richard L. Garwin and Georges Charpak offer an accessible, eminently well-informed primer on two of the most important issues of our time: nuclear weapons and nuclear power. They begin by explaining clearly and concisely how nuclear fission and fusion work in both warheads and reactors, and how they can impact human health. Making a strong and eloquent argument in favor of arms control, Garwin and Charpak outline specific strategies for achieving this goal worldwide. But they also demonstrate how nuclear power can provide an assured, economically feasible, and environmentally responsible source of energy — in a way that avoids the hazards of weapons proliferation. Numerous figures enliven the text, including cartoons by Sempe.
For nearly sixty years the menace of nuclear war has hung over humanity, while at the same time the promise of nuclear energy has enticed us. In Megawatts and Megatons, two of the world's most eminent physicists--French Nobel Prize laureate Georges Charpak and American Enrico Fermi Award-winner Richard L. Garwin--assess with consummate authority the benefits of nuclear energy and the dangers of nuclear weaponry.
Garwin and Charpak begin by elucidating the discoveries that have allowed us to manipulate nuclear energy with increasing ease. They clearly and concisely explain complex principles of fission and fusion pertaining to nuclear weaponry and the generation of nuclear electric power. They also make a strong and eloquent argument in favor of arms control. More than ten thousand nuclear weapons in the former Soviet Union, together with a similar number in the United States, have the capacity to destroy the world many times over. The nuclear club of nations is growing, with India and Pakistan its latest members and Iran, Iraq, and North Korea striving for admission. Even the possibility of a single weapon in the hands of a terrorist group--or a lone
terrorist--poses a threat that we cannot ignore.
Meanwhile, nuclear power already provides one-sixth of all electrical energy in the world--France, for instance, derives 80% of its electricity from reactors-- but nuclear power has met with great resistance in the United States, where the specter of the Three Mile Island breakdown still looms in the public's consciousness. Garwin and Charpak take a temperate, rational tone in evaluating the benefits of nuclear energy. They show how it can provide an assured, economicallyfeasible, and environmentally responsible supply of energy in a way that avoids the hazards of weapons proliferation.
Cogently written, passionately and carefully ar-gued--and featuring explanatory technical drawings as well as illustrations by the world-famous French cartoonist Sempe--Megawatts and Megatons is a thoughtful and important primer on two of the central issues of our time.
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