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eBook formatPaperback, (torrent)En
PublisherDa Capo Press
File size6.9 Mb
Release date 01.04.1988
Book rating4.33 (3 votes)
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The stories of runners-up, also-rans, and historical footnotes fascinate me.Maybe I'm a wannabe time-traveler, but I think it's fun to look at the people who possessed equal genius, motivation, materials, or drive, but were missing something, even if that thing was merely God's lightning bolt of timing.

The scientists who ran Germany's atomic program were much the same as America's; in fact, many of the tenets of nuclear theory were developed in Germany prior to 1939, when censorship prevented free sharing of sensitive scientific information due to the war.But the Americans had superior resources, space, leadership, and their land wasn't pulverized with falling bombs.Germany never managed to sustain a nuclear chain reaction - though they were darn close by 1945 - much less weaponize the fruit of their physics.

Again, it was a series of small mistakes that pushed this narrative: an experimental impurity led to Germany using heavy water as a neutron moderator, which was damn hard to produce.Also, when top Nazi leaders were invited to a presentation of nuclear physics research, the secretary in charge forwarded dense technical papers to the military command instead of a short summary saying "hey, if you invest in this maybe we can build a super-weapon".

The book tells a linear story, with enough small details to make it human, and at least hint at an alternate reality in which the guillotine is held in the other hand.

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