How Electricity Switched on the Modern World
By David Bodanis
(Broadway Books, Paperback, 9780307335982, 320pp.)
Publication Date: February 28, 2006
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In Electric Universe, David Bodanis weaves tales of romance, divine inspiration, and fraud through a lucid account of the invisible force that permeates our universe. In these pages the virtuoso scientists who plumbed the secrets of electricity come vividly to life, including familiar giants like Thomas Edison; 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 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.
David Bodanis has taught intellectual history at Oxford and is the author of several books, including The Secret House and E=mc2. A native of Chicago, he lives in London.
“A technological odyssey complete with heroes and villains, triumph and tragedy—a true scientific adventure.” —Simon Singh, author of Big Bang
“Though science is omnipresent in Electric Universe, it’s only part of the literary equation. Living, breathing, laughing, loving, vainglorious, extraordinarily gifted humans get plenty of ink as well.” —Chicago Sun-Times
“Anyone who has considered the inner workings of a computer (or even a toaster) would get a charge out of Bodanis’s history of electricity. . . . [He] adds more than a touch of drama to his lucid and informative science lessons.” —Entertainment Weekly
“Hugely impressive. No one makes complex science more fascinating and accessible—and indeed more pleasurable—than David Bodanis.” —Bill Bryson