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Strange Glow:
The Story of Radiation
Timothy J. Jorgensen

Winner of the 2017 PROSE Award in History of Science, Medicine & Technology, Association of American Publishers
One of Smithsonian Magazine’s Best Science Books of 2016
#6 on The Telegraph’s Top 50 Books of the Year 2016
One of Choice's Outstanding Academic Titles for 2016
One of Physics World's Top Ten Books of the Year, 2016
Shortlisted for Physics World's Book of the Year 2016

Paperback | 2017 | $19.95 | £14.95 | ISBN: 9780691178349
512 pp. | 6 x 9 1/4 | 25 b/w illus.
Hardcover | 2016 | $35.00 | £27.95 | ISBN: 9780691165035
512 pp. | 6 x 9 1/4 | 17 halftones. 8 line illus.
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eBook | ISBN: 9781400880522 |
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Georgetown on Space Travel: Cosmic Radiation and Air Travel

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Strange Glow: The Story of Radiation book trailer

More than ever before, radiation is a part of our modern daily lives. We own radiation-emitting phones, regularly get diagnostic x-rays, such as mammograms, and submit to full-body security scans at airports. We worry and debate about the proliferation of nuclear weapons and the safety of nuclear power plants. But how much do we really know about radiation? And what are its actual dangers? An accessible blend of narrative history and science, Strange Glow describes mankind's extraordinary, thorny relationship with radiation, including the hard-won lessons of how radiation helps and harms our health. Timothy Jorgensen explores how our knowledge of and experiences with radiation in the last century can lead us to smarter personal decisions about radiation exposures today.

Jorgensen introduces key figures in the story of radiation—from Wilhelm Roentgen, the discoverer of x-rays, and pioneering radioactivity researchers Marie and Pierre Curie, to Thomas Edison and the victims of the recent Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant accident. Tracing the most important events in the evolution of radiation, Jorgensen explains exactly what radiation is, how it produces certain health consequences, and how we can protect ourselves from harm. He also considers a range of practical scenarios such as the risks of radon in our basements, radiation levels in the fish we eat, questions about cell-phone use, and radiation's link to cancer. Jorgensen empowers us to make informed choices while offering a clearer understanding of broader societal issues.

Investigating radiation's benefits and risks, Strange Glow takes a remarkable look at how, for better or worse, radiation has transformed our society.

Timothy J. Jorgensen is associate professor of radiation medicine and director of the Health Physics and Radiation Protection Graduate Program at Georgetown University. He lives with his family in Rockville, Maryland.


"Jorgensen walks readers through the history of humanity's interaction with radiation. . . . [Strange Glow] is a solid, accessible work, but perhaps its most beneficial aspect is that Jorgensen equips readers with enough knowledge to make their own risk assessments, whether it is of a potential medical diagnostic test or a particular consumer decision."--Publishers Weekly

"Unbiased, comprehensible information on radiation risk is hard to come by. . . .Strange Glowfills this gap."--Science

"Narrative science at its best . . . a propulsive story, each piece building on the next in a series of progressive revelations. . . . A seismic piece of scientific inquiry, top shelf in narrative style and illumination."--Kirkus, starred review

"The only antidote to irrational fear is knowledge, andStrange Glowimparts this in spades."--Independent

"Strange Glow isn't about lessening what is largely a sensible fear, but about removing some of the mystery and misunderstanding. . . . This is a long overdue and successful attempt to rationalise an emotional subject by telling its story in very human terms."--Engineering & Technology News

"Strange Glow . . . integrates detailed science and carefully illuminated medical statistics with the personal lives of scientists. . . . The book's goal--‘to present the facts about radiation as objectively and even-handedly as possible, leaving you to decide which aspects to fear'--is achieved with authority and style."--Andrew Robinson, Lancet

"This book can be enjoyed as a sort of scientific QI--a string of interesting facts you can't wait to share with anyone who can be persuaded to listen. . . . Jorgensen proves that there's no excuse for convoluted writing, however difficult the subject. His conversational style makes even the most complex equations seem attractive."--William Cook, The Spectator

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