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The official accompaniment to a BBC TV series, Atom tells an amazing true story riddled with jealousy, rivalry, missed opportunities and moments of genius.
John Dalton gave us the first picture of the atom in the early 1800s. Almost 100 years later came one of the most important experiments in scientific history, by the young misfit New Zealander, Ernest Rutherford. He showed the atom consisted mostly of space, and in doing so turned 200 years of classical physics on its head.
It was a brilliant Dane, Neils Bohr, who made the next great leap - into the incredible world of quantum theory. Yet he and a handful of other revolutionary young scientists weren't prepared for the shocks Nature had up her sleeve. Mind-bending discoveries about the atom were destined to upset everything we thought we knew about reality. Even today as we peer deeper and deeper into the atom, it throws back as many questions as it does answers.
Piers Bizony is a science journalist and space historian who writes for magazines such as Focus and Wired, as well as the Independent. His award-winning book on Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey was described as 'full of sparkling enthusiasm' by the New Scientist and 'excellent, in every way worthy of Kubrick's original precision-crafted vision' by the Evening Standard. His latest book is The Man Who Ran the Moon (Icon, 2006)