Thursday, February 19, 2009

#29: From Ms. Rodriques, Media Specialist

I'm am not a scientist by training, usually skip reading the instructions on electronic equipment I buy, and am not all that enthusiastic when Scientific American comes in, but I have found a true gem of a book called E = mc2: a Biography of the World's Most Famous Equation by David Bodanis.

It was not only easy to read but was stock full of really cool information- did you know that their are pieces of German ships on the moon? This is a book we can recommend to those with high reading skills- 1170 lexile- but it is of great interest for those with limited reading skills as well. This writer put the equation into a real world perspective. First, he tells us about the origin of "E". How does the concept we now know as "energy" come to be?

The story winds itself around scientific history from Newton to how Einstein got his job in the patent office through the misunderstood relationship between Otto Hahn and Lise Meitner, physicists who helped to solve the mystery of the equation. Which one got the Nobel Prize? How do we decide the toll we take for the "greater good"? One violinist? The future health of millions of people? Count to 43 seconds- how long it took between the release of the first atomic bombs and the initial impact. How do we treat the scientists from Germany who were developing the same type of explosion? Were they "guilty" of war crimes or just furthering scientific discovery?

There are several biographic representations within the book- Newton, Einstein, Oppenheimer- and a slew of notes that give details about information within the chapters.

It's a great book, is in the media center and is ready to get checked out.