They did some crazy things during the Cold War. Without even telling us...
“Wolverton’s gripping Burning the Sky [is] the first book-length treatment of a remarkable series of nuclear tests in outer space, code-named Operation Argus. . . . Informative and balanced in its attention to diplomacy, science and biography.” - Nature
“Burning the Sky is scary as hell. An unflinching look at one of the darkest and most dangerous secrets of our past that has every reason to scare us right now. Read this book right now!” - Jonathan Maberry, New York Times bestselling author of V-Wars and Deep Silence
“With lucid, compelling prose, Mark Wolverton reveals the secret, risky nuclear tests employed by scientists working for the US military during the height of the Cold War in the late 1950s. A gripping account . . . Wolverton’s nail-biting chronicle of some of the most potentially dangerous atmospheric tests ever carried out is a must for enthusiasts of military and scientific history.” - Paul Halpern, physicist and author of The Quantum Labyrinth: How Richard Feynman and John Wheeler Revolutionized Time and Reality
“A gripping and nerdy tale of how a military’s fetish for power and technology can wind up threatening the public instead of securing the peace. A timely reminder of the dangers of unchecked adventurism as we enter an age of cyber and social warfare.” - R. Scott Kemp, Professor, Nuclear Science and Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
“In Burning the Sky, Mark Wolverton takes us back to the giddy―and terrifying―early days of the space age, when Cold War jitters drove ambitious scientists and anxious military planners to look skyward, dreaming about nukes in space. . . . Wolverton brings the story back down to Earth, capturing the technical uncertainties and moral ambiguities of the era. Fascinating.” - David Kaiser, Germeshausen Professor of the History of Science and Professor of Physics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
But secrets have a way of getting out sooner or later...
My latest book Burning the Sky: Operation Argus and the Untold Story of the Cold War Nuclear Tests in Outer Space, was published on November 27, 2018 by Overlook Press. Click on the cover image above to order your copy.
Seneca told us that "Our fears are more numerous than our dangers, and we suffer more in our imagination than in reality." The unreasoning fear of radiation and nuclear power, known as "radiophobia." is a classic example. My feature for Undark explains the reasons behind radiophobia and examines if there's really anything to fear.
Back in the 1930s, some Nobel Laureate physicists thought they'd found the secret of cosmic creation in the mysterious, newly-discovered phenomenon of cosmic rays. I tell the story in my Distillations feature.
A new MIT study on nuclear energy shows how it must be a key player in the quest to fight climate change, as I report in MIT Spectrum magazine.
The idea of war in space isn't anything new, but until very recently it's been little more than science fiction. Now it's on the verge of becoming reality -- with disastrous consequences -- as I describe in ASME Magazine.