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Electric Universe: How Electricity Switched on the Modern World Paperback – 19 Jan 2006

3.6 out of 5 stars 14 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Abacus; New Ed edition (19 Jan. 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0349117667
  • ISBN-13: 978-0349117669
  • Product Dimensions: 12.5 x 2 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 127,735 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

Hugely impressive. No one makes complex science more fascinating and accessible - and indeed more pleasurable - than David Bodanis (Bill Bryson)

A technological odyssey complete with heroes and villains, triumph and tragedy - a true scientific adventure (Simon Singh, author of BIG BANG and FERMAT'S LAST THEOREM)

Bodanis unpeels these layers of the electrical onion expertly; his writing is vigorous and sometimes ecstatic . . . ELECTRIC UNIVERSE is a high-voltage performance (DAILY MAIL)

A compelling, fast-paced read (OBSERVER)

Book Description

From the author of the bestselling E=MC2, a brilliantly descriptive analysis of one of the most powerful forces that controls the universe - electricity

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

I loved this book and couldn't put it down.It helped me to understand the basics behind radio, radar, computers, nerves in the body, telegraphs and telephones to name but a few. These are things I've always wanted to understand.True at times it doesn't go into very detailed theory but this book is meant to be an overview of electricity and would be difficult to satisfy everyone in one book and it is in no way overly simple. After reading it it has given me the desire to learn even more and I believe it is a great introduction to the subject.
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Don't be put off by the churlish sniffy purist reviews.It is a book for people who are beginning to be interested in the history of science,not the "experts".It's well-written, accessible, and treats the reader as an intelligent non-specialist human being. Fully deserves the award.The chapter on Alan Turing is brilliantly informative, and very moving.You've got to be a good writer to pull that of.
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When I bought this book all I was hoping for was to learn some science without being bored to tears. Instead, I got a gripping adventure story I really enjoyed reading.

The back of the book describes it as a "history of electricity", and it is true that the science is simplified - scientists might find it too simple, but for those who only want to know the basics it provides just enough information without turning into a lecture.

The focus of the book is really more on the history; how our use of electricity developed, the people who came up with the ideas. The style is anecdotal, similar to Bill Bryson's Short History of Nearly Everything, with a lot of personal details which made me see these famous names in a new way.

This book would be great for a teenager bored with science, for a science teacher who wants some tips on how to liven up lessons, or for anyone who'd like to learn the basics about electricity in a really enjoyable way.
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From the subtitle of this book, 'how electricity switched on the modern world', I was expecting much more of a history of the application of electricity. I wanted to know how it spread, how it came to insinuate itself into every aspect of our work and leisure. Although there is some of this, particularly with the telegraph, this book is actually a history of the discovery of electricity, of men and their experiments.
It's still fascinating, and full of anecdotes and stories. If I was a scientist I'm sure I would scoff at the explanations of what electricity is and what it does, but I'm not, so I appreciate the layman's terms. I learned plenty, especially in the later chapters as Bodanis explains electricity's role in biology and psychology. They didn't teach me that in school. Or if they did I wasn't paying attention.
It's a fine book, and very readable. I just thought I ought to clarify that subtitle.
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By Spider Monkey HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on 4 Oct. 2008
'Electric Universe' is a short, fascinating book that touches on many facets of electricity and it's use and application. It leaves you with many questions and makes you want to explore some of the themes in greater depth, which is either a positive or negative conclusion depending on your take. I found it to be immensely easy to read, but superficial and light. It explores the ideas around electricity well without being truly illuminating or deeply informative. This is a great science primer and a good place to start if you want a try a 'popular science' book, but if you've read other science books, or have a passing knowledge of electricity and scientific development in that past 100, years then you can give this a miss without any qualms. A solid three star book, good but not excellent.

Feel free to check out my blog which can be found on my profile page.
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I am amazed that this book has won the 2006 Aventis prize for popular science writing, as it is fine example of the current tendency for dumbing down. We get a whirlwind journey from Joseph Henry through J. J. Thomson to Alan Turing, but nowhere is there a clear explanation of the physical principles these exceptional scientists discovered, nor how these were applied to solve practical problems. Henry apparently just fooled around with magnets and before you know it, he was a professor at Princeton. There is hope for us all! Thomson built bigger versions of Edison's light bulbs and discovered the electron. Just like that! The writing style also grates, especially where Bodanis skates over describing the underlying science. Have a sick bag to hand when you read the Alexander Bell chapter, with its cheap sentimentality.
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Verified Purchase
I bought this book because I'd previously read the author's other work, E=MC², which was excellent. However, this book purports to be a history of electricity and yet there's not a single mention of the venerable Nikola Tesla; the man who invented polyphase power, the means by which most of the world still obtains its electrical energy, over one hundred years later! With several hundred patents to his name and having been credited as the TRUE inventor of radio - over and above Marconi - by the U.S. Supreme Court, surely Tesla deserves the respect and courtesy of a mention in such a book as this?
Would Mr. Bodanis write 'the history of the motor car' and not mention Henry Ford?
This was an interesting read, with many interesting facts and a few names that I remember from my childhood, such as Samuel Morse. But, to exclude Nikola Tesla, especially whilst devoting many pages to that unpleasant character,Thomas Edison, is unforgivable.
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