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Radiation: What It Is, What You Need to Know Paperback – October 8, 2013

ISBN-13: 978-0307950208 ISBN-10: 0307950204

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage (October 8, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307950204
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307950208
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.3 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #463,408 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

*Starred Review* “Virtually everything is radioactive, including us.” The opening line of this stellar book underscores the omnipresence of radiation, yet, as physician Gale and science writer Lax point out, most people know little about the topic. Fear of radiation is out of proportion to the actual risks. About one-half of our radiation exposure occurs naturally, background radiation that has both cosmic and terrestrial sources. The remainder is man-made, and 80 percent of it comes from medical testing and procedures. Consider that a CT scan of your head hurls roughly the same amount of radiation toward you as if you were standing four miles from the atomic blast in Hiroshima. Readers learn about radon, food irradiation, nuclear bombs, the connection between cancer and radiation, radioactive waste, and nuclear power plants (including the Chernobyl and Fukushima nuclear accidents). Lifestyle choices can collide with radiation hazards. For example, tanning booths give off approximately 12 times as much ultraviolet A radiation as our sun. A fertilizer applied to tobacco crops contains polonium-210, which likens smoking cigarettes to “intentionally inhaling a small nuclear weapon into your lungs.” Gale and Lax objectively present the danger and value of radioactivity. In content and writing, Radiation absolutely glows. --Tony Miksanek --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Review

Praise for Robert Peter Gale and Eric Lax's Radiation

“Eric Lax [and Robert] Gale weigh up the risks and benefits of industrial, medical and natural radiation clearly, logically and with ample science. . . . It is Gale’s phenomenal frontline experience that gives this book edge.”
Nature

“Humorous and accessible. . . . Gale and Lax aim to fill in the gaps in the public understanding of all things nuclear, and they are adept at doing so. . . . The book navigates this troublesome territory without bias. . . . [Gale and Lax] present a host of interesting facts and figures . . . and their explanation of the biological effect of internal radiation is excellent. . . . This book does a good job at explaining radiation and what it does, both good and bad. Radiation is integral to our planet and its use will shape our future here. In Radiation, Gale and Lax help us understand how and why.”
New Scientist 

“Everyone needs to read this book; it’s compact, easy to understand, rife with interesting revelations, and it cuts through a great deal of the noise surrounding the subject [of radiation].”
Jewish Journal
 
“Stellar. . . . Gale and Lax objectively present the danger and value of radioactivity. In content and writing, Radiation absolutely glows.”
Booklist (starred review)

“[Lax and] Gale’s is an invaluable guide for negotiating an increasingly radioactive world—for scientists, patients of radiation-related medical procedures, and environmentalists alike.”
Publishers Weekly

“A well-written extension of the reach of reason in an area fraught with phobia and hysteria.”
Kirkus Reviews


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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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I heartily recommend it.
Rauli
If a higher dose is received radiation can kill cells and induce radiation sickness.
Neuron
Very informative while easy to read.
Tyra Baginski

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Book Shark TOP 500 REVIEWER on April 8, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Radiation: What It Is, What You Need to Know by Robert Peter Gale, M.D., and Eric Lax

"Radiation" is an even-handed, educational and accessible book on radiation. The book covers many forms of radiation like microwaves and radio waves which have insufficient energy to alter cells to the more energetic forms known as ionizing radiations that can alter the structure of atoms. Scientist, physician, and author of twenty-two medical books, Robert Peter Gale, has teamed up with accomplished author Eric Lax to produce a readable and interesting book on an often misunderstood topic, radiation. This enlightening 288-page book is composed by the following nine chapters: 1. Assessing the Risks, 2. Radiation from Discovery to Today, 3. The Nature of Radiation, 4. Radiation and Cancer, 5. Genetic Diseases, Birth Defects, and Irradiated Food, 6. Radiation and Medicine, 7. Bombs, 8. Nuclear Power and Radioactive Waste, and Summing Up.

Positives:
1. A well-researched, well-written and even-handed book. Accessible for the masses.
2. An excellent educational tool that addresses a much misunderstood topic, radiation. "The specter of radiation is so frightening to many people that it eclipses reality."
3. Understanding the main differences between the two main type of radiation: ionizing (which can cause cancer) and nonionizing (generally little harm with the exception of ultraviolet radiations).
4. The main focus of the book is to reduce the gap between what we fear and what is real about radiation. Mission accomplished.
5. The book is full of interesting facts, "Radon-222 and related radionuclides are estimated to be the most common cause of lung cancer deaths in nonsmokers."
6.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Andrew Charig on June 30, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Lax and Gale are to be applauded or their clear explanations and thoroughly objective assessment of relative risks and benefits - the exact opposite of the many hysterical books on the subject.

However, the book is sprinkled with quite a number of small errors:

p. 66 There are known radioactive isotopes of EVERY element, not just those above thallium.

p. 89 Doctors use I-125 to scan thyroids, not I-127; I-127 is stable.

p. 142 Charcoal is not a hydrocarbon.

p. 186 How do VOCs produce ozone and sulfur dioxide (a water-soluble gas) produce solid particles? If this is right, it deserves an explanation.

throughout, they need to pay better attention to discriminating between radiation, radioactivity, and radioactive materials.

I'm sure these are just slips that better proofing would have caught.

So hats off to Gale and Lax for their objectivity, but back on again for their editing.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Michael Mallary on March 29, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book puts the radiation health risk of nuclear power in perspective. It points out that the the risks of climate change from fosil fuel burning out weigh the potential health risks associated with nuclear power. This is a sorely needed message in that the public thinks that nuclear power is a thousand times more dangerous than coal burning but the data shows that the oposite is in fact the reality.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By G. Poirier on March 25, 2013
Format: Hardcover
This book is a major and important contribution to the growing library of books aimed at explaining complex scientific issues to the general reader. But more than that, the authors have picked a field that sparks fear in the minds of many and that is also plagued by controversy.

Remaining strictly objective and adhering to nothing but the facts and the observed data, the authors have done an absolutely wonderful job in explaining, in plain language, the history, nature, sources, uses and (particularly) biological effects of radiation as well as the terminology used. Although non-ionizing radiation and its sources are briefly covered, the book is mainly concerned with the ionizing variety. One of the authors, Dr. R.P. Gale, is a world-renowned medical expert in this field and several experiences from his career are described.

The prose is a model of clarity, quite lively, clearly authoritative and highly engaging; I found the play-by-play description of the Goiania incident to be particularly gripping. Ending with a useful question and answer section and amply referenced, this is a book that should appeal to anyone, especially those concerned about all aspects of ionizing radiation.
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Federico Lucifredi on February 13, 2013
Format: Hardcover
An outstanding achievement, covers in clear terms the details of what radiation is, its effects on the human body, what is not understood, and the many uses that radiation has in our world.

This book is remarkable for its focused, matter-of-fact tone, and the clear intent to give the reader instruments to make reasoned decisions around an oft-hyped topic vastly affected by poor reporting and deliberate fear-mongering. Gale and Lax provide good data to take decisions about radiation both as an individual and as a policymaker and include hefty doses of common sense to combat the abundant hysteria surrounding the subject.

The authors don't shy away from declaring some areas poorly understood, but doing so in the context of the known facts, bounding the uncertainty space at both minimum and maximum understood endpoints. Very often, these known extremes are sufficient to contextualize available information, and understand what is a matter of concern for an individual, and what is only relevant in aggregate numbers as a matter of a country's health policy.

If you live close to a nuclear power plant, or are concerned about airport scanners, medical scans, or cell-phone emissions, this is a good book for you to read to evaluate real risks and what actions are best taken (or not taken).

The author's work is a public service to an area riddled with exaggeration and hyperbole, other subects of public policy and private concern would benefit from such a dispassionate, approachable, and clear expert opinion. A highly recommended read.
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