Electric universe

A new book deals with the phenomenon of electricity, and its discovery and manipulation by some of the most famous minds in scientific history.

ELECTRIC UNIVERSE

David Bodanis

Little, Brown £14.99

Bodanis’s book deals with the phenomenon of electricity, and its discovery and manipulation by some of the most famous minds in scientific history.

Split into five parts, the book moves from Victorian researchers to World War II and beyond, with Bodanis focusing on how the work of eminent scientists changed the world forever.

Faraday’s experiments with electromagnetism and Alan Turing’s seminal work with the first computer are two examples. The latter’s persecution and eventual suicide over his sexuality is used to highlight the contrast between innovative thinking and the restrictions imposed by English society.

While much of the book is about scientists pushing boundaries, from Bell and Edison to Samuel Morse, it also crackles with an appreciation of physics and electricity’s fundamental properties.

Bodanis has produced an engaging account of the history of electricity, and illustrates not just how much we owe the great minds of the past, but also how much we take its presence for granted now, and will in the future.

Christopher Sell

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