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Publisher's Summary

In his best-selling E=mc2, David Bodanis led us, with astonishing ease, through the world's most famous equation. Now, in Electric Universe, he illuminates the wondrous yet invisible force that permeates our universe, and introduces us to the virtuoso scientists who plumbed its secrets.

For centuries, electricity was seen as little more than a curious property of certain substances that sparked when rubbed. Then, in the 1790s, Alessandro Volta began the scientific investigation that ignited an explosion of knowledge and invention. The force that once seemed inconsequential was revealed to be responsible for everything from the structure of the atom to the functioning of our brains. In harnessing its power, we have created a world of wonders, complete with roller coasters and radar, computer networks and psychopharmaceuticals.

A superb storyteller, Bodanis weaves tales of romance, divine inspiration, and fraud through lucid accounts of scientific breakthroughs. The great discoverers come to life in all their brilliance and idiosyncrasy, including 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 City 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.

©2005 David Bodanis (P)2005 Random House, Inc. Random House Audio, a division of Random House, Inc.

Critic Reviews

"This entertaining look at how electricity works and affects our daily lives is highlighted by Bodanis' charming narrative voice and by clever, fresh analogies that make difficult science accessible." (Publishers Weekly)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Amazing Book!

This is the only book I have in both print and audio format. It paints a great picture of the development of our understanding of electricity through the ages. Not only this but it highlights the most interesting stories and people involved, and puts it in context of what was going on at the time.

In addition to this I think it imparts a good fundamental understanding of what electricity is. I certainly feel it did a better job than my teachers at college. If you are interested in inventing, good stories or just electricity this has it all.

If I have one complaint its that I wish Nikola Tesla was mentioned more.

Currently I am listening to it for a second time (I never normally listen to books twice) and its teaching me even more the second time round. A lovely book, very educational, and I will encourage my children to read it when they are a little older.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • David
  • United States
  • 09-13-14

More Fun Then Expected

Where does Electric Universe rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

It is on the 'keeper' List

What did you like best about this story?

Nice little bag of gems

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

Nothing extreme

Any additional comments?

A good section on the early transatlantic cables and I say that having on hand a full book on the subject. Also the section on Heinrick Hertz is essential.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • C.
  • 03-13-10

Boring and unimaginative

I heard a recommendation for this book in one of the podcasts over at twit.tv. The recommendations of Leo Laporte and Co are usually excellent, but in this case, the pick was a disappointment. The book tells about the history of electricity. All the stories one has heard many times before, I heard them as a boy about 30 year ago. Then the book uses electricity as an excuse to tell pretty long and boring war stories. The final part about electricity in biology feels forced and patched on. The attempt to explain electricity in words understandable for a general audience can only be called unimaginative. "tiny" electrons, "giant atoms", electrons being pushed back and forth by a field, this is about as far as it gets. This book is neither for advanced readers, nor do I think that it is the one that will capture the interest of a novice.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars

Good reading

The book is good, have a good starting, a lot of enteresting storys. The end is good too, make you understand a lot of things in this electric universe.
Its a shame they didn't talk about Nikola Tesla. But why? I can't undestand this! Bus its a good book.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful