Copyright American Library Association, used with permission.
This book, based on the author's popular Berkeley course for nonscience majors, addresses five main issues: terrorism, energy, nuclear weapons and energy, space, and global warming. Muller (Univ. of California, Berkeley) aims to present the science behind these topics so that "future presidents" can make informed decisions. He has chosen the topics well and does a good job of explaining the science involved. This volume, however, is not strictly a science book since Muller also addresses making political, financial, and personal decisions. While one must include these issues as part of the decision-making process, they are not science. For example, Muller argues against manned space flights because they are not as safe or as efficient as unmanned expeditions. This assumes space flight to be a scientific undertaking and not human exploration. That said, if one accepts that this is science plus Muller's opinion on how decisions should be made, then it is an interesting read. Summing Up: Recommended. General readers. E. Kincanon Gonzaga University
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Global warming. Biochemical weapons. Nuclear power. It's good to have a Berkeley physics professor teach us the science needed to understand the world we live in. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
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What should the president do if a "dirty" radioactive bomb were exploded in an American city? Should he or she support the construction of pebble-bed nuclear reactors to provide safe, clean energy? In this presidential primer, MacArthur fellow and UC-Berkeley physicist Muller ranges from terrorism to space exploration to global warming, offering basic information and countering myths. He says, for instance, that dirty bombs aren't as dangerous as people fear; if the radiation is diffused over a large area, the risk of death or of cancer is extremely low. In a survey of energy sources, Muller argues that much-hyped hydrogen and solar energy have a long way to go, whereas nuclear power and coal don't deserve the bad rap they receive. Regarding space exploration, Muller joins the ranks of scientists who maintain that it is better done by robots than by humans. Nuclear technology receives considerable attention, though information is repeated from one chapter to another, but an extensive, balanced section on global warming should be required reading for all informed citizens as well as Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and John McCain. 50 illus. (July) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved