Synopses & Reviews
There are eight columns in the Periodic Table. The eighth column is comprised of the rare gases, so-called because they are the rarest elements on earth. They are also called the inert or noble gases because, like nobility, they do no work. They are colorless, odorless, invisible gases which do not react with anything, and were thought to be unimportant until the early 1960s. Starting in that era, David Fisher has spent roughly fifty years doing research on these gases, publishing nearly a hundred papers in the scientific journals, applying them to problems in geophysics and cosmochemistry, and learning how other scientists have utilized them to change our ideas about the universe, the sun, and our own planet.
Much Ado about (Practically) Nothing will cover this spectrum of ideas, interspersed with the author's own work which will serve to introduce each gas and the important work others have done with them. The rare gases have participated in a wide range of scientific advances-even revolutions-but no book has ever recorded the entire story. Fisher will range from the intricacies of the atomic nucleus and the tiniest of elementary particles, the neutrino, to the energy source of the stars; from the age of the earth to its future energies; from life on Mars to cancer here on earth. A whole panoply that has never before been told as an entity.
"Fast-paced and humorous, the book keeps the reader's attention, even during complicated passages. Balancing scientific technicalities and story-telling, readers with and without extensive scientific knowledge can enjoy Fisher's book." -- Chemical Heritage
The six noble gases--so-called because, like the nobility, they do no work--are the rarest elements on Earth. Comprising helium, neon, argon, krypton, xenon, and radon, they are colorless, odorless, invisible gases that do not react with anything and were thought to be unimportant until the early 1960s. Even though research on the noble gases has since resulted in a wide range of scientific advances--even revolutions--this is the first book ever to tell the entire story. David E. Fisher, who has spent fifty years doing research on these gases, interweaves his own work with the breakthroughs of other eminent scientists to show how the noble gases have changed our ideas about the universe, the sun, and our own planet. Fisher, who is also an accomplished novelist, offers a lively account that ranges from the intricacies of the atomic nucleus and the tiniest of elementary particles, the neutrino, to the energy source of the stars; from the age of the earth to its future energies; and from life on Mars to cancer here on earth.
About the Author
David E. Fisher
is Professor Emeritus of Geological Science at The University of Miami. He is the author of nine novels and fourteen works of non-fiction.
Table of Contents
1. In the Beginning
4. Helium and the Age of the Earth
5. Helium and the Nuclear Atom
6. Interlude: Helium, Argon, and Creationism
7. Brookhaven and Meteorites
8. Interlude: Cornell
9. K/Ar and the Irons
10. Interlude: The Spreading Sea Floor
11. Miami: Measuring the Spreading Sea Floor
12. The Argon Surprise
13. Primordial gases: Evolution of the Earth
15. Xenon and the Primordial Gases: Evolution of the Solar System
16. Back on Earth: Tommy Gold and Fossil Fuels
17. Back to the Stars: Fritz Houtermanns, and How Do Stars Burn
18. And on to the Cosmos: Ray Davis, Argon, and the Neutrino Kerfluffle
19. Life on Mars!
20. From the Sublime to the Serious: Radon
21. L'Envoi, or How Science Works: A Morality Tale