One line overview:

Radiation made simple with great analogies, explanations and lots of stories of discovery

Recently last year, I actively got back into reading books, more specifically popular science books. First on my list was “Strange Glow” by Timothy Jorgensen (@Tim_Jorgensen), mainly as I’m really interested in anything radiation related (or CBRN for that matter) and has always been a fascination of mine, plus the cover was pretty damn cool (see below).

The trefoil symbols actually glowed in the dark, which I was amazed at one night when I something glow on my bookshelf

Firstly, the book introduces you to the very basics of radiation, taking me back to the days of GCSE level physics. I will admit, I forgot 90% of the basics of radiation, so it was good to get a recap of lots of radiation principles that had forgotten about.

A lot of the first few chapters are focussed around the ‘golden age’ of physics in which the majority of the discoveries were made in the field of radiation. But what this book gave more than a typical physics textbook was that there were more personal stories of the discoverers. I learnt so much more about the life of physicists such as Marie Curie or William L. Bragg than from traditional textbooks and websites like Wikipedia.

Explanations were pretty much perfect, Jorgensen really nailed some analogies and made them super easy to understand, even for a microbiologist with little physics background such as me.

My favourite section was probably the last one, detailing things such as radon in homes, the Fukushima nuclear disaster and radiation in food. As much as I enjoyed the stories of radiation discoveries, my primary interests are in what is happening now, from cell phone radiation controversy to iodine-131 in foods to nuclear war.

All in all, the book was great, it was long and occasionally got boring, but it was necessary to understand the particular area or the scenario that Jorgensen was writing about. It covered almost everything I wanted the book to cover, so that was great and I will be sure to read it again in the future.

Overall: 7/10.