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The Cloud Chamber

UK Publisher: Sceptre

This erudite and technically accomplished novel imparts a great deal about the splitting of the atom in the 1930s and the moral maze that led to the Atomic Bomb. Partly based on her own grandfather, an Australian who won a scholarship to study at the Cavendish Laboratory in Cambridge where much of the early scientific work was done, The Cloud Chamber captures the confusion caused by an equation capable of destroying the world. Her fictional physicist is a pacifist who becomes dismayed by the building of the Hiroshima Bomb and who has befriended Alan Nunn May, later to betray secrets to the Russians. Although perseverance is required to follow the twists and turns of the experiments, the 1930s peace movement and the amateurishness of the security sleuthing, much light is shed on shady and chaotic events that altered the course of history.