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David Bodanis

Electric universe

The use of electricity pervades modern society. However, each electric device is the result of a great deal of research and in this book David Bodanis gives the stories of some of the most prominent of these discoveries. Thus we find out about the telegraph and telephone, radio and radar and the early development of transistors and computers. The final section relates to electricity in nerves and the brain. Bodanis does very well in weaving the discoveries in with the details of the lives of the people concerned, and so bringing the science of everyday devices to a non-technical readership.

One thing that rather irritated me though was the 'simplified' description of what happens on the scale of electrons, which I felt often made things more confusing, especially since most readers will be familiar with the workings of the devices concerned anyway. For instance radar is described as forcing electrons in the target to jostle around and thus transmitting a signal that can be detected. Why couldn't he just say that the radio beam is reflected? Also I didn't really think that the chapter on moods fitted in to the theme of the book. OK most things are related to electricity, but I felt Bodanis could have chosen something more directly relevant.  |  Chronon Critical Points  |  Recent Science Book Reviews