Electric Universe: The Shocking True Story of Electricity

by David Bodanis

Hardcover, 2005




New York : Crown Publishers, c2005.


From the author of the bestselling E=MC2, comes a mesmerizing journey of discovery illuminating the wondrous yet unseen force that permeates our world and the scientists who've probed its secrets. Before 1790, when Alessandro Volta began the scientific investigation that spurred an explosion of knowledge and invention, electricity was perceived as little more than a property of certain substances that sparked when rubbed. Now we know that this formerly thought an inconsequential force is responsible for everything from the structure of the atom to the functioning of our brains. Bodanis, a superb storyteller, tells a story filled with romance, divine inspiration, fraud, and scientific breakthroughs revealing how we learned to harness its powers. The great scientists such as Michael Faraday and Samuel Morse come to life, complete with all their brilliance and idiosyncrasy.… (more)

User reviews

LibraryThing member FredB
This is series of descriptions of somewhat unrelated items related to electricity. It talks about such pioneers in the science of electricity as Joseph Henry, Michale Faraday, Thomas Edison, J. J. Thomson, etc. I found the part about the first transatlantic cable the most engaging. It's amazing how
Show More
little they know about electricity before they went and put in a cable all the way across the ocean. I got a little bit tired of the language the author uses to describe electricity, current, voltage, power, etc. Being a physics professor, I found it too simplistic and "poetic".
Show Less
LibraryThing member nmele
I have mixed feelings about this book--the breezy tone struck me as condescending rather than friendly, and most of the stories Bodanis tells are familiar--Michael Faraday's struggles with class prejudice, the work of Edison, Galvani and Volta, etc. But Bodanis did teach me a few things and as I
Show More
got used to his style I found it less distracting.

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...
Show Less
LibraryThing member themulhern
Seemed pretty lightweight, like it was written for the YA market and not really for adults. Heavy on casually inaccurate narrative, light on the actual technology, with pretty poor metaphors. I listened to it on audio; I intend to give it a try in physical form to see if it seems more substantive
Show More
that way.
Show Less
LibraryThing member Clif
This is a very readable history about the development of electricity, a modern convenience that most of us take for granted. I think the book will be appreciated by any reader who wants to know and understand the history behind the development of the modern utilities that we have become so
Show More
dependent on.

Read in March, 2007
Show Less
LibraryThing member datrappert
Entertaining and occasionally enlightgening, particularly the rather touching part about Alexander Graham Bell's courtship of his deaf wife. I think I would have enjoyed it more, however, if Bodanis had spent a little more time on what we normally consider as electricity. Instead, he jams it all
Show More
in, including the birth of computers, the wartime morals of the bombing of Hamburg, and how our brain and body work on electricity as well. As a result, nothing is quite as in-depth as I would have liked.
Show Less
LibraryThing member JohannaIvarsson
This book was a great reading during the summer. I study for a degree in electrical engineering and it was really an eye-opening experience to read the history of electricity. How much it has effected our way of life and how hard it can be to be recognised as an inventor.

It is very simply written
Show More
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.
Show Less
LibraryThing member julie10reads
This entertaining look at how electricity works and affects our daily lives is highlighted by Bodanis's charming narrative voice and by clever, fresh analogies that make difficult science accessible. Bodanis examines electricity's theoretical development and how 19th- and 20th-century entrepreneurs
Show More
harnessed it to transform everyday existence. Summary BPL

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!
Show Less
LibraryThing member Bulwor
Excellent information. Well written and nicely explained. My heart breaks every time I hear the story of Alan Turing.


Local notes

inscribed by author


Page: 0.1944 seconds