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Too Hot to Handle: The Race for Cold Fusion (Princeton Legacy Library) Hardcover – April 21, 1991

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

This scholarly expose of the cold fusion controversy, brought public in 1989 at the University of Utah, is two parts chemistry and one part sociology of science as affected by greed. Close ( The Cosmic Onion ), a physicist from Britain's Ritherford Labs and a talented writer, offers a global view of the interactions of the science, politics and personalities involved in what may have been the archetypical science event of the '80s. Lay readers will need their high school chemistry and some physics to follow the detailed chronology of events and players (F. D. Peat's Cold Fusion would be a good reference). The mysteries of matter are often overshadowed by the volatile forces of humans and their institutions in a day-by-day, experiment-by-experiment account that simultaneously meets the tests of good science and good journalism.
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc.


"Frank Close has shown [care and industry] in recording, at first hand wherever possible, the whole story from the beginning. We possess too few detailed case-histories of science, and this is a very welcome addition. His best passages ... have a racy vigour; as in good thrillers, one can hardly wait to see what they will get up to next, and as in good thrillers, what they get up to is frequently worse than expected.... The book should be read as an exemplary tale by all who are concerned about the conflicting demands of scientific integrity, personal ambition and public interest."--Nature


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Product Details

  • Series: Princeton Legacy Library
  • Hardcover: 392 pages
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press (April 21, 1991)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0691085919
  • ISBN-13: 978-0691085913
  • Product Dimensions: 1.2 x 6.5 x 9.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,264,263 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Mark on August 4, 2004
Format: Hardcover
The fusion of light atoms found in water has been viewed as the holy grail for meeting global energy needs. To date, science has spent millions of dollars on fusion research, trying to create the effect in plasmas with temperatures of hundreds of million degrees fahrenheit. But what if there was a simpler way to fuse atoms? In 1989, two chemists believed they found it. The scientific community was initially turned on its ear by the announcement. The history of the "cold fusion" experiments and the quest to verify them are the subject of Frank Close's "Too Hot to Handle."

Frank Close's book is really a cautionary tale of what happens when sloppy science meets with equal amounts of greed, media hype, and a genuine desire to believe in the impossible. "Too Hot to Handle" is a testament to those scientists who methodically examined cold fusion and relied on the scientific method to arrive at the truth. It also examines the realm of possibilites (particulalrly the negative ones) that would open should fusion power become commercially viable.

Frank Close writes his book with general audiences in mind, but a basic knowledge of atomic physics (the nucleus, neutrons, protons, radiation, gamma rays, fission, and fusion) is a prerequisite. He often repeats himself with explanations of the fusion processes and their consequences. Readers should be forewarned that Close uses British spellings and grammatical conventions. The book also looks like it was edited in a hurry, as there are several typographical errors in the text that slow down readability when they emerge.

"Too Hot to Handle" is a solid book that presents a lot of information compiled over a very short amount of time. It addresses a phenomenon that has been discounted by most scientists, but some still persist in believing in it. Hopefully this work will serve as a light in the darkness to future scientists, regardless of their field of study.
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