“Strange Glow” hits all the notes you’d expect from a book described as “the story of people’s encounters with radiation” — from physicist Ernest Rutherford’s overturning of the”plum pudding” model of the atom to the “radium girls” who were poisoned by the glow-in-the-dark radium paint they applied to watch faces. But author Timothy J. Jorgensen does more than just retell the anecdotes. He uses them to illustrate his main argument: radiation is not an unfathomable bogeyman, but a well-understood phenomenon whose effects on health can and must be rationally considered given the challenges facing humanity.

In the final, most interesting section, Jorgensen explores contemporary issues, including the accidents at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant and Chernobyl. Here, too, he argues that governments must empower people to analyze the risks and benefits for themselves, rather than simply redefining “safe” exposure levels upwards.

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