ISBN10: 1-4259-3617-2

ISBN13: 9781425936174

Publisher: AuthorHouse

SoftCover, 184 Pages

Being a book reviewer you develop a ‘nose’ for a good book. I read the press release for The Science Was Fun, and I just had to request a review copy.

Dr Baldwin is a retired nuclear physicist; this insightful book details his life and career. At 89 years old he has seen huge changes in both the scientific and business world.  

The book is only 184 pages long and (in my opinion) much to short. This man has many more stories in him that he has not shared with the reader.

The Science Was Fun breaks into four broad sections, his childhood, college, working career, and retirement.

Dr Baldwin obtained his PhD in 1944, and started off on a great career. He is a little too self critical by saying “I never won any prizes”. He is the creator of 9 patents (however they are all in General Electrics name), and has made or contributed to many important discoveries in the nuclear research field. Dr Baldwin worked both in the commercial world for General Electric (GE) and also in the academic world. 

In many ways the 40’s and 50’s were the ‘Wild West’ of nuclear physics, and it is amazing to read this personal account. When George was faced with a problem, he and his associates just sat down and invented a solution on the back of an envelope.  

I did detect a touch of regret in the book though. Reading between the lines I suspect that Dr Baldwin might have taken some alternative branches in his career if given a second chance.

There is also humor to be found; there is one particularly amusing story involving a pig farm and an unusual use of litmus paper.

The nuclear research field is also potentially very dangerous; Dr Baldwin himself nearly met an untimely end by being in the wrong place while holding a pair of pliers. He also mentions the misadventures of two engineers attempting to photograph the ‘hot’ core of a reactor, and who succeeded in irradiating the building in the process.

Some of the passages in the book were way beyond my ‘grammar school’ level physics, but he manages to summarize the salient facts, so that I think I understood most of the concepts. The good news is that most of the book is not technical.

This is just a delightful read; it encompasses everything from creating topographical maps in Montana, playing with betatrons in Nevada (I think this was something to do with atom bombs), to attending conferences in the Soviet Union.

Many biographies play on the successes, Dr Baldwin however gives us some insight into the ‘dark side’ of scientific politics. I found this book to be very eye opening. Both the business and scientific world seem plagued with politics.

Dr Baldwin has agreed to an interview, and I must say I am looking forward to this a great deal. It is not often that you get the opportunity to talk to someone who has been a significant figure in the scientific community for the past 60 years.

You can get copies of The Science Was Fun through AuthorHouse.

I hope to have the interview in a few days, and will publish it as soon as possible.

Simon Barrett

http://zzsimonb.blogspot.com
 

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