Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Radioactivity: A History of a Mysterious Science” as Want to Read:
Blank 133x176
Radioactivity: A Histo...
Marjorie C. Malley
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Radioactivity: A History of a Mysterious Science

3.46  ·  Rating Details ·  97 Ratings  ·  16 Reviews
This is the story of a new science. Beginning with an obscure discovery in 1896, radioactivity led researchers on a quest for understanding that ultimately confronted the intersection of knowledge and mystery.
Mysterious from the start, radioactivity attracted researchers who struggled to understand it. What caused certain atoms to give off invisible, penetrating rays? Whe
ebook, 0 pages
Published July 20th 2011 by Oxford University Press, USA
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Radioactivity, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Radioactivity

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 523)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Brendon Schrodinger
'Radioactivity: A History of a Mysterious Science' presents a body of work that is more mysterious than the supposed 'mysterious science'. Oh and before I go any further, all science is mysterious after discovery and in the initial research, radioactivity is not the exception. And I fail to understand how radioactivity could still be perceived as mysterious today, unless you have never learnt about it.

Which brings me to my next point. Just who is this book aimed at? The book is split into three
Dec 22, 2011 Ann rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-medicine
This book does a good job of decribing the history of radioactivity : from Becquerel rays to radium to alpha and beta particles, on to the theories about the nucleus and the ultimate applications of radioactivity and nuclear energy. Unfortunately, the book, written by someone with an impressive pedigree in physics and the history of science, requires the reader to be fairly knowledgeable about the subject already. This is not Radioactivity 101 ! For instance, the author does a good job of listin ...more
John Gribbin
Aug 27, 2013 John Gribbin rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition

Radioactivity is a great disappointment. The idea of a little book using radiation as the unifying theme to discuss some of the great science of the twentieth century is appealing, the level of the book is pitched just right for young teenagers developing an interest in science, and the rather plodding style could be forgiven if the information conveyed were accurate. Alas, in all too many places, it is not, in spite of being, we are told by the author, “based on years of my research”.
Brian Clegg
Jul 10, 2012 Brian Clegg rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Don’t judge a book by its cover, my old gran used to say (and some of the covers of the books she read certainly proved she believed what she said), but in practice it is difficult advice to follow. Covers have a huge impact on our approach to a book – and combined with an old-fashioned feeling title this one screamed ‘dull textbooky kind of thing at me.’ Luckily, though, I resisted the urge to lose it at the bottom of the review pile, because Radiation has a lot going for it.

Marjorie Malley div
Dec 21, 2011 Julie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is about the 5th book about radioactivity I've read this year. All featured Marie Curie to some degree and all had a different perspective. This book really focused on the individuals responsible for teasing out the mysteries surroungding radioactivity, but rather than focus on their stories, really was a summary of the history and how various theories developed over time. I think the book may have worked better if it didn't jump around so much in time. Also, I think the last few chapters s ...more
Dec 13, 2011 Eddie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed the book especially more info on Marie Curie, her political and humanist views. Much of the info on radioactivity I already knew about so I skipped sections of the book. The most tragic part was the fact that many of the scientists (probably most of them) were injured and several died as a result of their ignorance about handling radium and uranium.
Ashutosh Srivasatva
This is a very geeky books with lots of scientific jargon which a non-technical person nay not be able to understand without considerable effort. However, readers who have relevant technical background will find it a good and interesting read.
See full review here -
Feb 15, 2015 Stephen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Books about the history of science tend to tell not only the story of the bit of science involved but also something about how the human mind wonders, investigates, solves problems, learns and knows. In this brief history of the discovery and investigation of radioactivity, Malley gives considerable attention to those whose theories were wrong, whose hypotheses were disproved and whose predictions were in error. This is an excellent quality to the work in that it correctly represents how science ...more
Logan Sibley
While this book does a good job presenting the interesting history of the birth of the science of radioactivity and key players in its development, the book taken as a whole, I find, is rather poor. Upon reading the dedication I could anticipate the sort of 'purple prose' writing that would follow. Rather than simply sticking to facts and anecdotes about the science and it's characters, Malley's language often reaches into a realm of idyllic fiction.

Part III of the book really says nothing at a
Aug 22, 2011 Scott rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An interesting look into tht history of the science of radioactivity and many of the key players involved in its discovery and understanding.
Daniel Ulm
Very Intrested It shows how all the chemical formulas and all the chemical accidents that happened very good book
Apr 28, 2012 Asgar rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It's rather pithy, and the language is often axiomatic, whereas she makes a statement then moves on without context or support. But I guess this can be seen as a virtue, considering people are usually opposed to digression and infinite regression. A more meaty appendix with in-text referrals to said appendix would have been helpful...
Jan 11, 2013 theresa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
it fed my geek streak and then some. this was a comprehensive and fairly accessible history of radioactivity, a little "dry" at times but over all an enlightening read on a science that is often misunderstood.
Mar 03, 2012 Aloysius rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Not the most exciting book I ever read, but decent if you want a narrative for not only the basics of radioactivity, but also the timeline of the discovery of those basics.
Mike Abrahams
Jun 29, 2013 Mike Abrahams rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Too academic. If you are expecting a good layperson exposition of a complex and interesting subject this is not what you are going to get.
Adam Crouse
May 14, 2013 Adam Crouse rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Pretty decent read. it took me a while to get into it, but I'm glad I did.
Francy Andersen
Francy Andersen marked it as to-read
Oct 20, 2016
Ryan Ellis
Ryan Ellis marked it as to-read
Oct 18, 2016
John marked it as to-read
Oct 04, 2016
Abhaya Sharma
Abhaya Sharma rated it it was amazing
Sep 24, 2016
Laura Belshaw
Laura Belshaw marked it as to-read
Sep 23, 2016
MartinWade rated it really liked it
Sep 09, 2016
Michael marked it as to-read
Aug 24, 2016
Timmon marked it as to-read
Aug 21, 2016
Muiz marked it as to-read
Aug 08, 2016
Angelia marked it as to-read
Aug 03, 2016
Motas Ban
Motas Ban marked it as to-read
Jul 21, 2016
Mike Rappleye
Mike Rappleye marked it as to-read
Jul 16, 2016
Brian Nunn
Brian Nunn marked it as to-read
Jul 15, 2016
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 17 18 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Eruptions That Shook The World
  • Unnatural Selection: Choosing Boys over Girls and the Consequences of a World Full of Men
  • Blood Work: A Tale of Medicine and Murder in the Scientific Revolution
  • How the Hippies Saved Physics: Science, Counterculture, and the Quantum Revival
  • Time Travel and Warp Drives: A Scientific Guide to Shortcuts through Time and Space
  • The Wild Life of Our Bodies: Predators, Parasites, and Partners That Shape Who We Are Today
  • Science: A Four Thousand Year History
  • Possessing Genius: The True Account of the Bizarre Odyssey of Einstein's Brain
  • Science Ink: Tattoos of the Science Obsessed
  • Flat Earth: The History of an Infamous Idea
  • Sex, Drugs, and Sea Slime: The Oceans' Oddest Creatures and Why They Matter
  • How to Build a Time Machine: The Real Science of Time Travel
  • Future Science: Essays from the Cutting Edge
  • Sex on Six Legs: Lessons on Life, Love, and Language from the Insect World
  • What Have You Changed Your Mind About?: Today's Leading Minds Rethink Everything
  • That's Disgusting: Unraveling the Mysteries of Repulsion
  • Prehistoric Life: The Definitive Visual History of Life on Earth
  • The Goddess and the Bull: Catalhoyuk: An Archaeological Journey to the Dawn of Civilization

Share This Book