Handbook of Nuclear Chemistry. Attila Vértes, Sándor Nagy, and Zoltán Klencsár, Editors. Kluwer Academic Publications: Dordrecht/Boston/London, 2004. 5 volumes, Figures, tables. lviii + 2444 pp, hardcover 16.7 ´ 24.6 cm. $1575.00, E1600.00. ISBN 1-4020-1305-1.

According to 1994 Nobel Chemistry laureate George A. Olah,
Generating energy by burning non-renewable fossil fuels including oil, gas and coal is feasible only for the relatively short future and even so, faces serious environmental problems. The advent of the atomic age opened up a wonderful new possibility, but also created dangers and concerns of safety. I feel that it is tragic that the latter considerations practically brought further development of atomic energy to a standstill at least in most of the Western world. Whether we like it or not we have in the long run no alternative but to rely increasingly on clean atomic energy, but we must solve safety problems including those of disposal and storage of radioactive waste-products. Pointing out difficulties and hazards as well as regulating them (within reason) is necessary. Finding solutions to overcome them, however, is essential [1].

Olah’s sentiments are echoed by the late Edward Teller, who wrote the foreword to the Handbook of Nuclear Chemistry, but who died (on September 9, 2003) before it was published:

There can be no question that nuclear energy will become more important in the future in spite of the fact that there is general opposition toward the use of this form of energy….Oil and gas are becoming more expensive and no great reserves appear to be available. Coal supplies are likely to last longer but I expect it to become more expensive even within this century. The other sources, like hydroelectricity, solar energy and geothermal energy will be in many cases important, but they will remain local and limited. I firmly expect that the source that will become of lasting and general importance for the world is nuclear energy (Vol. 1, p vii).

The 20th century has been called the “Nuclear Age,” and during that time 53 Nobel prizes were awarded to theoreticians and experimenters who were nuclear scientists. Despite anti-nuclear sentiment engendered by such unfortunate accidents as those at Three Mile Island in the United States in 1979 and Chernobyl in the U.S.S.R. in 1986, many countries, such as France, continue to use nuclear reactors as sources of energy, and nuclear science will be of increasing importance in the 21st century. Therefore the publication of the Handbook of Nuclear Chemistry, which authoritatively surveys all of the chemical aspects of the dynamic field of nuclear science,is most welcome. Chapter 1 of its first volume, “History of Nuclear and Radiochemistry” (pp 1–41), written by Gerhart Friedlander and Günter Herrmann, provides a bird’s eye view of the entire field.

The three editors are all affiliated with the Eötvös Loránd University in Budapest (Professors Vértes and Nagy authored one and three chapters, respectively), and many of the contributors are Hungarian. The international team of 77 authors consists of world-renowned nuclear chemists, radiopharmaceutical chemists, and physicists from Austria, Belgium, Germany, Hungary, Japan, the Netherlands, Russia, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

Volume 1 contains a foreword and preface, and each volume includes a list of contributors for that particular volume, their affiliations, and their postal and email addresses. Each volume has separate editors, separate pagination, a separate ISBN number, and a detailed table of contents, which includes authors’ names, sections, subsections, and sub-subsections, for that volume. (There is no cumulative index for the entire handbook.) Each volume except Volume 4 contains one or more appendixes, conceived and edited by Gábor L. Molnár, and Volume 4 includes its own preface and an obituary of Gerhard Stöcklin, a pioneer in radiopharmaceutical chemistry, who died unexpectedly on March 15, 2003 and to whom the volume is dedicated.
The handbook contains hundreds of tables, figures, and mathematical and nuclear equations. Most of its 48 chapters begin with an introduction and end with a section on conclusions or future trends. The extensive selection of references (books, articles, and internet sites), some as recent as 2003, provides access to further reading in the field. Many important concepts and terms appear in boldface type. The international system of units (SI) is used consistently throughout the handbook.

A list of the chapters and their lengths shows the wide range of topics discussed in the handbook:
Volume 1, “Basics of Nuclear Science,” Volume Editor, R. G. Lovas (xiii + 560 pp), ISBN 1-4020-1313-2
Chapter 1, “History of Nuclear and Radiochemistry” (41 pp)
Chapter 2, “Basic Properties of the Atomic Nucleus” (93 pp, the longest chapter in the volume and in the handbook)
Chapter 3, “Nuclear Reactions” (53 pp)
Chapter 4, “Nuclear Fission” (65 pp)
Chapter 5, “Kinetics of Radioactive Decay” (33 pp)
Chapter 6, “Interaction of Radiation with Matter” (34 pp)
Chapter 7, “Statistical Aspects of Nuclear Measurements” (66 pp)
Chapter 8, “The Standard Model of Elementary Particles” (19 pp, the shortest chapter in the volume)
Appendixes, “Reference Data” (139 pp)
Volume 2, “Elements and Isotopes: Formation, Transformation, Distribution” (ix + 527 pp), ISBN 1-4020-1314-0
Chapter 1, “The Origin of the Chemical Elements” (48 pp)
Chapter 2, “Natural Radioactive Decay Chains” (23 pp)
Chapter 3, “Radioelements” (12 pp, the shortest chapter in the volume)
Chapter 4, “Isotope Effects” (32 pp)
Chapter 5, “Isotopic Paleoclimatology” (38 pp)
Chapter 6, “Radioactive Dating Methods” (63 pp)
Chapter 7, “Production and Chemistry of Transuranium Elements” (64 pp)
Chapter 8, “Production and Identification of Transactinide Elements” (39 pp)
Chapter 9, “Chemistry of Transactinides” (73 pp, the longest chapter in the volume)
Chapter 10, “Superheavy Elements” (20 pp)
Appendix, “Table of the Nuclides” (102 pp)
Volume 3, “Chemical Applications of Nuclear Reactions and Radiations” (x + 553 pp), ISBN 1-4020-1315-9
Chapter 1, “Radiation Chemistry” (55 pp)
Chapter 2, “Hot Atom Chemistry” (51 pp)
Chapter 3, “Mössbauer Spectroscopy” (79 pp, the longest chapter in the volume)
Chapter 4, “Mössbauer Excitation by Synchroton Radiation” (12 pp, the shortest chapter in the volume and in the handbook)
Chapter 5, “Positron Annihilation Spectroscopies” (27 pp)
Chapter 6, “Exotic Atoms and Muonium” (31 pp)
Chapter 7, “Neutron Scattering Methods in Chemistry” (41 pp)
Chapter 8, “Activation Analysis” (60 pp)
Chapter 9, “Applications of Neutron Generators” (24 pp)
Chapter 10, “Chemical Applications of Accelerators” (55 pp)
Chapter 11, “Tracer Technique” (32 pp)
Appendixes, “Reference Data” (67 pp)
Volume 4, “Radiochemistry and Radiopharmaceutical Chemistry in Life Sciences,” Volume Editor, Frank Rösch (xvi + 398 pp), ISBN 1-4020-1316-7
Chapter 1, “Reactor-Produced Medical Radionuclides” (46 pp)
Chapter 2, “Cyclotron Production of Medical Radionuclides” (33 pp)
Chapter 3, “Radionuclide Generators” (38 pp)
Chapter 4, “11C: Labeling Chemistry and Labeled Compounds” (47 pp, the longest chapter in the volume)
Chapter 5, “18F: Labeling Chemistry and Labeled Compounds” (43 pp)
Chapter 6, “99mTc: Labeling Chemistry and Labeled Compounds” (46 pp)
Chapter 7, “Radioiodination Chemistry and Radioiodinated Compounds” (22 pp, the shortest chapter in the volume)
Chapter 8, “Radiometals (non-Tc, non-Re) and Bifunctional Labeling Chemistry” (36 pp)
Chapter 9, “Radionuclide Therapy” (34 pp)
Chapter 10, “Dosimetry and Biological Effects of Ionizing Radiation” (39 pp)
Volume 5, “Instrumentation, Separation Techniques, Environmental Issues,” (x + 406 pp), ISBN 1-4020-1317-5
Chapter 1, “Radiation Detection” (31 pp)
Chapter 2, “Dosimetry Methods” (39 pp)
Chapter 3, “Particle Accelerators” (53 pp)
Chapter 4, “Technical Application of Nuclear Fission” (50 pp)
Chapter 5, “Isotope Separation” (36 pp)
Chapter 6, “Solvent Extraction and Ion Exchange in Radiochemistry” (14 pp, the shortest chapter in the volume)
Chapter 7, “Radiochemical Separations by Thermochromatography” (33 pp)
Chapter 8, “Environmental Radiation Protection” (60 pp, the longest chapter in the volume)
Chapter 9, “Radioactive Waste Management” (41 pp)
Appendix, “Reference Data” (34 pp)

Like many other Kluwer reference works, the Handbook of Nuclear Chemistry is available online. (For a complete list of available titles and a free 30-day trial of the electronic version of these works visit: http://reference.kluweronline.com. Existing customers of the print version are eligible for a significantly reduced price for the online companion. Subscribing universities and other institutions and their faculty, staff, and students have access from any desktop to browse, search, and receive the content that they require, in the medium that they choose, wherever and whenever they wish.

The Handbook of Nuclear Chemistry is an invaluable, comprehensive, and cutting-edge reference for nuclear scientists, chemists, biologists, physicists, physicians practicing nuclear medicine, chemical educators, graduate students, and anyone involved in the chemical and radiopharmaceutical aspects of nuclear science. It also belongs in academic, industrial, and technical libraries.

References and Notes
1.       Olah, G. A. Oil and Hydrocarbons in the 21st Century. In Chemical Research 2000 and Beyond; Barkan, P., Ed.; American Chemical Society & Oxford University Press: Washington, DC/New York, 1998; p 40.

George B. Kauffman
California State University, Fresno, georgek@csufresno.edu
S1430-4171(05)01879-6, 10.1333/s00897050879a