In his bestselling E=mc2, David Bodanis led us, with astonishing ease, through the world's most famous equation. Now, in Electric Universe, he illuminates the wondrous yet invisible force that permeates our universe and introduces us to the virtuoso scientists who plumbed its secrets. For centuries, electricity was seen as little more than a curious property of certain substances that sparked when rubbed. Then, in the 1790s, Alessandro Volta began the scientific investigation that ignited an explosion of knowledge and invention. The force that once seemed inconsequential was revealed to be responsible for everything from the structure of the atom to the functioning of our brains. In harnessing its power, we have created a world of wonders complete with roller coasters and radar, computer networks and psycho pharmaceuticals. A superb storyteller, Bodanis weaves tales of romance, divine inspiration, and fraud through lucid accounts of scientific breakthroughs. The great discoverers come to life in all their brilliance and idiosyncrasy, including the visionary Michael Faraday, who struggled against the prejudices of the British class system, and Samuel Morse, a painter who, before inventing the telegraph, ran for mayor of New York City on a platform of persecuting Catholics. Here too is Alan Turing, whose dream of a marvelous thinking machine what we know as the computer was met with indifference, and who ended his life in despair after British authorities forced him to undergo experimental treatments to cure his homosexuality. From the frigid waters of the Atlantic to the streets of Hamburg during a World War II firestorm to the interior of the human body, Electric Universe is a mesmerizing journey of discovery by a master science writer.A popular history of the science of electricity follows the work of the scientists and pioneers who investigated its unique properties and secrets, including Alessandro Volta, Michael Faraday, and Samuel Morse, and discusses the influence of their scientific breakthroughs on our ability to harness its power. By the author of E=mc2. 75,000 first printing.
This is not, however, anything like a complete history of the discovery of electricity and its applications--Tesla, for example, is nowhere mentioned. And the story pretty much ends with the development of the transistor and the discovery that electric charges pass signals through our nervous systems.
I'm not sure I'd recommend this to anyone over 40...
Read in March, 2007
I listened the audio version of this book with much pleasure. The author manages to make science understandable--how novel!--and absorbing. I was particularly taken by the story of Alan Turing, inventor of the (idea, anyway) modern computer.
8 out of 10 Highly recommended to all who want to investigate science painlessly!
It is very simply written and David Bodanis even managed to bring in tiny bits of humor into an area of science that, at least in Sweden, is not very appealing to many young people these days.