Seven Elements That Changed the World: An Adventure of Ingenuity and Discovery

Open Road Media
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From iron to uranium, titanium to silicon, this is “a wide-ranging look at scientific progress. It’s also a lot of fun” (The Wall Street Journal).

Iron. Carbon. Gold. Silver. Uranium. Titanium. Silicon. These elements of the periodic table have shaped our lives and our world, in ways both good and bad. Combining history, science, and politics, this “lively, educational examination of civilization’s building blocks” reveals the fascinating story (Publishers Weekly).

With carbon, we can access heat, light, and mobility at the flick of a switch. Silicon enables us to communicate across the globe in an instant. Uranium is both productive (nuclear power) and destructive (nuclear bombs). Iron is the bloody weapon of war, but also the economic tool of peace. And our desire for alluring gold is the foundation of global trade—but it has also led to the death of millions.

Explaining how titanium pervades modern consumer culture and how an innovative new form of carbon could be starting a technology revolution, Seven Elements That Changed the World is an adventure in human passion, ingenuity, and discovery—and the latest chapter in a journey that is far from over. 
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About the author

John Browne was born in Germany in 1948 and joined BP as a university apprentice in 1966, rising to group chief executive from 1995 to 2007, where he built a reputation as a visionary leader, regularly voted the most admired businessman by his peers. This is his first book.
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Additional Information

Publisher
Open Road Media
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Published on
Feb 4, 2014
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Pages
368
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ISBN
9781480447783
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Language
English
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Genres
Nature / Natural Resources
Science / History
Technology & Engineering / History
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Available on Android devices
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“One of the best popular accounts of how Einstein and his followers have been trying to explain the universe for decades” (Kirkus Reviews, starred review).
 
Physicists have been exploring, debating, and questioning the general theory of relativity ever since Albert Einstein first presented it in 1915. This has driven their work to unveil the universe’s surprising secrets even further, and many believe more wonders remain hidden within the theory’s tangle of equations, waiting to be exposed. In this sweeping narrative of science and culture, an astrophysicist brings general relativity to life through the story of the brilliant physicists, mathematicians, and astronomers who have taken up its challenge. For these scientists, the theory has been both a treasure trove and an enigma.
 
Einstein’s theory, which explains the relationships among gravity, space, and time, is possibly the most perfect intellectual achievement of modern physics—yet studying it has always been a controversial endeavor. Relativists were the target of persecution in Hitler’s Germany, hounded in Stalin’s Russia, and disdained in 1950s America. Even today, PhD students are warned that specializing in general relativity will make them unemployable.
 
Still, general relativity has flourished, delivering key insights into our understanding of the origin of time and the evolution of all the stars and galaxies in the cosmos. Its adherents have revealed what lies at the farthest reaches of the universe, shed light on the smallest scales of existence, and explained how the fabric of reality emerges. Dark matter, dark energy, black holes, and string theory are all progeny of Einstein’s theory.
 
In the midst of a momentous transformation in modern physics, as scientists look farther and more clearly into space than ever before, The Perfect Theory exposes the greater relevance of general relativity, showing us where it started, where it has led—and where it can still take us.
 
An impassioned defense of progress and innovation—and an argument for social responsibility from engineer, businessman, and former CEO of BP Lord John Browne.

Today's unprecedented pace of change leaves many people wondering what new technologies are doing to our lives. Has social media robbed us of our privacy and fed us with false information? Are the decisions about our health, security and finances made by computer programs inexplicable and biased? Will these algorithms become so complex that we can no longer control them? Are robots going to take our jobs? Will better health care lead to an aging population which cannot be cared for? Can we provide housing for our ever-growing urban populations? And has our demand for energy driven the Earth's climate to the edge of catastrophe?            

John Browne argues that we need not and must not put the brakes on technological advance. Civilization is founded on engineering innovation; all progress stems from the human urge to make things and to shape the world around us, resulting in greater freedom, health and wealth for all. Drawing on history, his own experiences and conversations with many of today's great innovators, he uncovers the basis for all progress and its consequences, both good and bad. He argues compellingly that the same spark that triggers each innovation can be used to counter its negative consequences. Make, Think, Imagine provides an eloquent blueprint for how we can keep moving towards a brighter future.

After World War II, most scientists in Germany maintained that they had been apolitical or actively resisted the Nazi regime, but the true story is much more complicated. In Serving the Reich, Philip Ball takes a fresh look at that controversial history, contrasting the career of Peter Debye, director of the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Physics in Berlin, with those of two other leading physicists in Germany during the Third Reich: Max Planck, the elder statesman of physics after whom Germany’s premier scientific society is now named, and Werner Heisenberg, who succeeded Debye as director of the institute when it became focused on the development of nuclear power and weapons.

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