Cover of Inside the Atom (3d Ed.)
Book 69 Physics 1966
The Noble Gases The Neutrino
2 spaceships-and-suns
Asimov fan
1 spaceship-and-sun
Target reader

Inside the Atom, originally published in 1956, was so widely acclaimed by the reviewing media that it has been revised periodically to incorporate the newest findings in the complex and fascinating world of the atom.

In this New Updated 1974 Edition, Dr. Asimov provides new information on the elements, including the most recently discovered hahnium and ruthebordium. Here, too, is the story of the breeder reactor which is being developed as a new source of energy. Another recent invention, mentioned in this edition, is the laser, which can put out a beam of light that can be concentrated on a tiny pinpoint. A great deal of energy can be delivered by the laser.

In the clear and understandable language that has become Dr. Asimov’s trademark, research resulting from our new consciousness of energy needs and shortages is explored in detail, showing us the almost limitless potential for energy inside the atom.

There is little to say about the third edition of Inside the Atom that wasn’t said about the first edition. It is roughly 16% longer and has an additional chapter—the older chapter 7 ("Atomic Newcomers") has been renamed "Atomic Artillery" and a new chapter has been inserted after it using the old title but now covering the topics of antiparticles, neutrinos, and the various mesons which had been given rather shorter shrift in the earlier edition. (This new chapter accounts for the bulk of the additional material.)

I must admit that the revisions are not quite as much as one might hope. Quarks are still not mentioned—more a problem in the 1974 edition than the 1966 edition—nor are tauons and some of the more exotic particles known today. (I don’t know offhand myself when tauons were discovered, so it may not be my place to complain about this.) The book is, as I said about the first edition, still very good if not quite as good as it might be.

This is one of the few instances where a book (other than The Intelligent Man’s Guide to Science and Asimov’s Biographical Encyclopedia of Science and Technology) acquired a new book number by dint of substantial revision. Asimov himself was doubtful that the revisions were sufficient to count the result as a new book, but if he counted it, and counted Understanding Physics as three books instead of one, and if he counted the pamphlet The Genetic Effects of Radiation as a book, he'd end up publishing 12 books in 1966, setting a new (and convenient) record. So he counted it.

It is also the last of the Abelard-Schuman science juveniles. The series which brought Asimov his first successes as a science writer has finally drawn to a close. Some of the books in the series would undergo further revisions (such as The Building Blocks of the Universe and Inside the Atom itself), but none would ever be counted as a new title.

(One last bit of sheer honesty: I don’t actually own either the first or the third editions of Inside the Atom. I own the second and fourth. It is, however, in all probability the third edition which I first read back in the fourth grade or thereabouts.)

HTML Comment Box is loading comments...