During his 50-year career, nuclear and atomic physicist Thomas A. Cahill left his imprint on an astonishingly broad array of projects, including components of the Pioneer 10 and Voyager spacecraft, the battle for the catalytic converter, protecting the Dead Sea Scrolls, and saving Mono Lake and visibility in national parks. In this autobiography, Cahill reveals the previously undisclosed truth about what happened – and didn’t happen – at the World Trade Center disaster. He was pivotal in numerous environmental victories, capped by his work to secure $750 million in health care funding for first responders at the collapsed World Trade Center.
Two American presidents (and others) tried to shut down Cahill, who took pride in challenging bias and ignorance. Written with humor and spiced with previously untold stories, Critical Masses documents how he managed to simultaneously hold a “Q Clearance” at Los Alamos for “special nuclear materials” (the stuff that goes bang in a critical mass) while erroneously listed as an Arab nuclear physicist in a Middle Eastern inventory. Government officials in India mistook him for a CIA operative, while back at his nuclear lab in California he came into possession of a pair of radioactive Levi 501s that a student had worn while visiting Kiev four days after the Chernobyl disaster.
The double meaning of the title Critical Masses also pays tribute to Cahill’s “physical theology” philosophy in which he reconciles the Big Bang theory and modern science with his firm belief that the universe is the province of a caring creator, a conviction reinforced through the solace of Masses of which he partook under the most unlikely circumstances in remote locations throughout the world.