The Basis of Everything

Rutherford, Oliphant and the Coming of the Atomic Bomb

by Andrew Ramsey

On Sale: 22/07/2019

Format:

About the Book

Before the Manhattan Project, before nuclear warfare and the horrors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, there was the twentieth century's great scientific quest to fathom the secrets of the atom. It was through that search for the inner workings of matter that a unique friendship was forged, a partnership that defied academic orthodoxy and altered the course of history.

Centred on the inter-war years - within the ivy clad walls of Cambridge University's famed Cavendish Laboratory, amid the windswept valleys of north Wales, and in the industrial heartland of Birmingham - The Basis of Everything is the story of the coming of the atomic bomb, and how the unlikely union of two scientists - Ernest Rutherford, the son of a New Zealand farmer, and Mark Oliphant, a peace-loving vegetarian from a tiny Australian hills village - would change the world.

The story that bonds Ernest Rutherford and Mark Oliphant is as extraordinary as it is unlikely. They were kindred souls, schooled and steeped in the furthest frontiers of Britain's empire, whose restless intellect and tireless conviction fused in the crucible of discovery at Cambridge University's celebrated Cavendish Laboratory, at a time when nature's deepest secrets were being revealed. Their brilliance illuminated the sub-atomic recesses of the natural world and, as a direct result, set loose the power of nuclear fusion.

It was a heartfelt, enduring partnership, born at the University of Adelaide's modest physics department and then flourishing further in the confines of the Cavendish before ultimately driving the famed Manhattan Project, which produced the world's first nuclear weapons, unleashed to such devastating effect on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Rutherford and Oliphant were men with a shared devotion to pure science, who, through circumstance and necessity, found themselves betrayed as instruments of wars they detested but were duty-bound to prosecute. Consequently, their influence was pivotal in the last great global conflict the world witnessed and in engendering the thermonuclear threat that has held the planet hostage ever since. Yet their pioneering work also lives on in a vast array of innovations seeded by nuclear physics, from radiocarbon dating and TV screens to life-saving diagnostic-imaging devices.

PRAISE FOR THE BASIS OF EVERYTHING

In The Basis of Everything, journalist Andrew Ramsey has succeeded in telling a story so detailed and compelling that even knowing where it leads does not distract from the journey. The Sydney Morning Herald

Product Details

  • ISBN: 9781460709559
  • ISBN 10: 1460709551
  • Imprint: HarperCollins
  • On Sale: 22/07/2019
  • Pages: 384
  • BISAC1: HISTORY / Military / Nuclear Warfare

Biography

Andrew Ramsey is a journalist and author who has written about cricket for more than 20 years.In addition to having his work published in numerous newspapers around the world including The Australian, The Times, The Telegraph, The Guardian, The Hindustan Times and The Hindu, he has been a contributor to Wisden Cricketers' Almanack.He has covered around 100 Test matches including a number of Ashes series in Australia and England, among them the 2005 campaign in the United Kingdom regarded as the 'greatest Ashes battle of the modern era' and Australia's dual 5-0 whitewash summers on home soil in 2006-07 and 2013-14. His book The Wrong Line, which chronicles the travails of the travelling cricket writer, was published in 2012.He is currently Senior Writer with cricket.com.au and, when not ensconced in a press box or an airport, lives in Adelaide, South Australia.


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