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With the world desperate to find energy sources that do not emit carbon gases--a desire compounded by the sky-rocketing cost of fossil fuels--nuclear power is back on the agenda and in the news. Yet nuclear power sparks anxiety in many people who are unclear about the nature and extent of the associated risks. In this Very Short Introduction, Maxwell Irvine provides an informative and balanced overview of the entire subject. He presents a concise history of the development of nuclear physics leading up to the emergence of the nuclear power industry and discusses the nature of nuclear energy and the various aspects of public concern, including the risks of nuclear safety, the cost of its development, and the problems of waste disposal. The book looks specifically at safety records, including accounts of the Windscale fire, the Three Mile Island incident, and the Chernobyl disaster. As he dispels much of the widespread confusion about nuclear energy, Irvine argues for the relevance of nuclear power to the ongoing energy crisis and encourages informed debate about its potential.
Maxwell Irvine is Honorary Professor of Physics at Manchester University.