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Interview With Author Michael F. L’Annunziata Part 2

By: , Posted on: August 18, 2017

“Elsevier would be nowhere without our authors, and we are thankful to all of them for their contributions to science. But there are few with whom have we had the pleasure of collaborating for half a century. Dr. Michael F. L’Annunziata is one such author—2017 marks his 50th anniversary of publishing with Elsevier. We at Elsevier are so thankful that Dr. Michael L’Annunziata dedicated himself at an early age to make a significant contribution to science. And what an incredible legacy of work he continues to provide the world! Of course we know him best through his significant contribution to the scientific literature.

From his first steps with us in 1967 with his paper in Elsevier’s Journal of Chromatography, to his landmark work Radioactivity: Introduction and History which Elsevier published in 2007 and was on the Library Journal’s Best Sellers List in Physics, Dr. L’Annunziata has always held himself to the highest standards. His continued hard work and dedication to sharing his science showed in the continued success of the Second Edition of his work entitled Radioactivity: Introduction and History, From the Quantum to Quarks published in 2016 and which was a recipient of Honorable Mention in the 2017 PROSE Awards in the category of Chemistry and Physics.

We are grateful that he has again chosen us as his publishing partner for the Fourth Edition of the Handbook of Radioactivity Analysis which is slated to be published in 2019 and that we have been able to enjoy this productive collaboration with him for the last 50 years.

On behalf of all of my colleagues, I sincerely thank Dr. L’Annunziata for his work with us and look forward to our future collaborations.”

– Laura Colantoni, VP and Publisher

Below is Part 2 of this interview. Click here to access Part 1.

1. What are the most profound changes you have seen in your field across your illustrious career?

During my undergraduate and graduate years in the 1960s, it was thought that the proton and neutron were elementary particles; that is, it was thought that these constituents of the atomic nucleus could not be broken down into smaller subatomic particles. Also, it was thought that there could not exist a charge smaller than +1 or -1, which was then considered to be the elementary charge. We now know that the proton and the neutron can be broken down into three quarks, namely the proton contains two up (u) quarks each of charge +2/3 and one down (d) quark of charge (-1/3), whereas the neutron contains two down (d) quarks and an up (u) quark. In addition, we now are aware of the fact that these quarks are held together in the proton and neutron by gluons, which are exchanged between the quarks. What is also a most fascinating and profound change during my career is the discovery that 99% of the mass of the proton and neutron is not from the quarks, which amount to only approximately 1% of the proton or neutron mass, but from the energy of the gluons that dart back and forth between the quarks. Thus, approximately 99% of the mass of the atom is derived from the energy of the gluons.

These fascinating and profound changes are described in detail in my most recent book entitled Radioactivity: Introduction and History, From the Quantum to Quarks published by Elsevier in 2016.

2. What have been the biggest challenges working as an editor

I have found it easier to be the sole author of a book than to be an editor. When serving as an editor, it is necessary to maintain clear and regular communication with the chapter authors. The chapter authors are often from a large number of countries around the world, with different cultures requiring the need for sensitivity and diplomacy in communication. The editor needs to be certain that all chapter authors follow guidelines, meet deadlines for manuscript delivery, and keep focused on the objectives of the book and their chapter so that each chapter completes the overall objective and success of the book. It is a challenge to keep abreast of the progress of each chapter author, particularly when the editor is also an author of one or more chapters in the book. It is a time-consuming and exhausting task.

3. What have been the biggest rewards?

It is nice to find your book in the library collections of the most prestigious university libraries and research institutions of the world; however, the biggest reward is finding your book cited as a reference for class work or cited by other researchers in their journal articles. The overall success of a book can be measured by the number of citations to your work. Satisfaction can come from one’s work only when we can discover that it is appreciated by others, namely university faculty, students, and research scientists around the globe.

4. What changes have you experienced with the publishing industry over the years?

When I submitted my first book to the publisher in 1978, there were no computers, and thus e-mail as a form of communication did not exist. My first manuscript was prepared with a typewriter and a carbon copy produced by placing carbon paper between two sheets of paper in the typewriter. Graphs had to be drawn by hand, and intricate figures were completed by artists. Now we can prepare graphs and figures with the computer. When my first book was completed in 1978, I could not send it via the Internet, which did not exist. The publisher flew from London to my office in Vienna, Austria, and picked up the manuscript and figures in lieu of the possibility and risk of sending the material in the postal mail.

As time went on, in the 1980s with manuscripts of other books that I published, I could send floppy disks of each chapter in the postal mail to the publisher. Then in the 1990s and 2000s, the Internet was well established and communication was instant with e-mail. The lengthy chapters for an entire book with figures, which could not be sent via the Internet, were submitted to the publisher on DVD. Now in the 2010s, we can submit, review, and correct all chapters, figures, tables, etc. via the Internet utilizing an Electronic Manuscript Submission System (EMSS).

5. Do you have any tips for early career (or even mid-career) researchers?

One can be successful in scientific research only when they have a passion for research. A real passion for one’s line of work will occupy your thoughts the entire day, not only from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM, but also from 5:00 PM to 9:00 AM. In scientific research, discoveries or breakthrough ideas are made most often not in the laboratory, but during another less meaningful activity, such as taking a shower of bath. The breakthrough idea or discovery may then be implemented in the laboratory. When the mind of a scientist is always on his or her line of research, which comes with a passion for their work, breakthroughs and discoveries will be made..

6. What’s next for you and your career?

I do not know how many years remain in my professional future; however, when you have a passion for your work, there is always more to do. I might consider my work complete when I see the completion of the Fifth Edition of the Handbook of Radioactivity Analysis in the year 2026. I have found co-authors for my chapters in our current work toward the Fourth Edition who possibly could take over the chapters in my absence, and when the time comes, a co-editor could assist me in the production of the Fifth Edition and continue producing the book for yet future editions. The Fourth Edition, slated to be published by Elsevier in 2019, will be expanded to two volumes. Future editions may be expanded to include more volumes to comprise additional material that would be of interest to scientists in the physical, chemical, and biological sciences.

There is also the possibility that I produce in the years to come an expanded Third Edition of my title Radioactivity: Introduction and History, From the Quantum to Quarks. The Second Edition, published by Elsevier in 2016, included among the 2017 PROSE Awards with an Honorable Mention in the category of Chemistry and Physics, shows signs of becoming a great success, and I am always willing to produce a newer edition when I am certain that it would be better than the previous one.

View Part 1 of this interview here.

Michael F. L’Annunziata, Ph.D. appears with a detailed biography in the annual editions of Who’s Who in the World from 1987 to 2017 and Who’s Who in America from 2000 to 2017. He majored in chemistry with a BSc degree from St. Edward’s University in 1965, and he was awarded MSc and PhD degrees from the University of Arizona, Tucson in 1967 and 1970, respectively, and an Honorary Teaching Diploma from the Central University of Ecuador in 1978. His graduate thesis research in the 1960s, financed by the then U.S. Atomic Energy Commission directed by Nobel laureate Glenn T. Seaborg, dealt with the analysis of radioactive strontium-89 and strontium-90 in the environment and the remediation of soils contaminated with strontium-90 in the event of nuclear fallout. During 1972 to 1975, L’Annunziata was Professor at the Postgraduate College in Chapingo, Mexico, and during 1975-1977, he was research scientist at the National Institute of Nuclear Research (ININ), Mexico City and thesis research adviser on radioisotope tracer applications for the Autonomous University of the State of Mexico, Chemistry Faculty, Toluca, Mexico. L’Annunziata was a member of the Board of Governors, International Science Programs at Uppsala University between 1988 and 1991. He was Head of Fellowships and Training at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in Vienna, Austria from 1987-1991 and has served as IAEA Expert on peaceful applications of nuclear energy for development in over 50 countries of the world from 1976 to 2007. His main research interests have been focused on the development of chemical and instrumental methods for the detection and measurement of radioactive nuclides in the environment and the application of radioactive tracers in biological research. L’Annunziata demonstrated in 1971 the separation of strontium-90 from its daughter nuclide yttrium-90 by electrophoresis as a potential method for strontium-90 analysis (J. Chem. Educ. 48, 700-703). He was the first to postulate in 1970 the soil microbial epimerization of myo-inositol to other inositol stereoisomers as a source of isomers of soil inositol phosphates published in his University of Arizona, Ph.D. dissertation, 1970 ( and published in 1971 in the SSSA Journal 35(4), 587-595, and again in 1975 in the SSSA Journal 39(2), 377-379, and to demonstrate in 1977, with the use of radioactive carbon-14, the soil microbial epimerization of myo-inositol to D-chiro-inositol as a mechanism for the origin of the isomers of soil inositol phosphates (SSSA Journal 41(4), 733-736). Michael F. L’Annunziata was Honorary Professor at Zhejiang University in Hangzhou, China in 1992. He has authored several books, among which his book entitled Radioactivity: Introduction and History published by Elsevier in 2007 was on the Library Journal’s Best Sellers List in Physics, and its Second Edition entitled Radioactivity: Introduction and History: Form the Quantum to Quarks published by Elsevier in 2016 was a recipient of Honorable Mention in the 2017 PROSE Awards in the category of Chemistry and Physics. L’Annunziata is currently working on the Fourth Edition of the Handbook of Radioactivity Analysis which is slated to be published by Elsevier in 2019.

Download a free chapter – Chapter 10, Neutron Radiation  – from Prof. L’Annunziata’s book, Radioactivity, 2nd Edition.

Chapter 10, Neutron Radiation analyzes various aspects of cosmic radiation including the classification and properties of cosmic radiation, the composition of cosmic radiation of galactic origin incident on the top of the atmosphere (TOA), the flux distributions of the major components of primary cosmic radiation, the spectrum of cosmic rays greater than 100 MeV, the showers of cosmic radiation, relativistic calculations of time dilation for a muon traveling toward earth in the cosmic-ray showers as measured by an observer on earth, cosmic rays underground, and the origins of cosmic rays.

Visit and use discount code STC317 at checkout to save up to 30% on your very own copy!

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