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Download Electric Universe: How Electricity Switched on the Modern World Audiobook

Extended Audio Sample Electric Universe: How Electricity Switched on the Modern World Audiobook, by David Bodanis Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (474 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: David Bodanis Narrator: Adam Levy Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Abridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: February 2005 ISBN: 9780739313268
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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.

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Quotes & Awards

  • Hugely impressive. No one makes complex science more fascinating and accessible—and indeed more pleasurable—than David Bodanis. Bill Bryson, author of A Short History of Nearly Everything and A Walk in the Woods
  • Bodanis wears his immense knowledge lightly. His crystal-clear explanations of everything from force fields under the Atlantic to GPS satellites combine with a flair for narrative and an eagle eye for obscure facts (where else can you learn that antidepressants turn into liquid electricity when swallowed?) to provide an intriguing account of how the wonders of electricity have transformed our world. Ross King, author of Brunelleschi’s Dome and Michelangelo and the Pope’s Ceiling
  • Electric Universe is a technological odyssey complete with heroes and villains, triumph and tragedy—a true scientific adventure. Simon Singh, author of Fermat’s Enigma and Big Bang

Listener Opinions

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Clif Hostetler | 2/15/2014

    " This is a very readable history about the development of electricity, a modern convenience that most of us take for granted. I think the book will be appreciated by any reader who wants to know and understand the history behind the development of the modern utilities that we have become so dependent on. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Shawna | 1/30/2014

    " This was very interesting and unexpected. It was as much a story about people as it was a story of science. I especially enjoyed the section describing the discovery of radar. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Upom | 1/25/2014

    " Was not a great history of electricity. For whatever reason, Bodanis started the book with Samuel Morse's alleged theft of the telegraph from Joseph Henry, skipping over Volta, Galvani, Franklin, and various other milestones in electrical History. In general the book was rather awkwardly arranged, written in a bland manner. Though I did enjoy the re-imagining of the invention of the phone as the way to win the heart of Alexander Graham Bell's deaf lover, the book as a whole was a rather awkward history which sometimes read as sanctimonious judgment. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Janan Foster | 1/10/2014

    " A fascinating, understandable book about the ways (often surprising) that electricity, in its many permutations, rules the world. Bodanis has the ability to be selective about what he includes, to vary the pacing, change the mood and generally entertain while enlightening. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Ana Egge | 12/30/2013

    " great. informative and very entertaining. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Sarah | 12/30/2013

    " An amazingly clear layout of how we've stumbled across all the great finds in the history of electricity. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Jim | 12/18/2013

    " a good primer for the history of the development for electricity and gives a basic understanding of how electricity works. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Rickard | 10/8/2013

    " Easy and entertaining history of electricity. The author blends science and more historical portraits in a good way and keeps the readers interested in the history of electricity. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 David Askey | 9/15/2013

    " Bodanis is one of my favorite authors. He brings the human side to science. Interesting anecdotes - especially from the late 1800's to early 1900's. My only criticism is . . . why wasn't this book twice as long? "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Eduard Horak | 7/23/2013

    " An interesting book. Provides a rudimentary look at the history of electricity and the people and stories behind it. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Hakija | 6/14/2013

    " This book is outstanding if you are interested in electricity. Fantastic! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Kerry | 5/22/2013

    " Finally helped me to understand a lot of electricity that I never picked up in school. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Bob carmichael | 4/6/2013

    " exciting take on electricity. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Kathy Petersen | 6/25/2012

    " I gobbled this up so fast that I could have gotten quite a large shock. Bodanis is truly gifted in describing, exploring, and explaining the wonder and the science and the history of electricity. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Michael Brown | 5/10/2012

    " A fantastic look at the modern history of electricity, highlighting stories of the people behind the telephone, light bulb, radio, radar and more. Bodanis finishes with a look at life and how we use electricity within our own bodies. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Myke | 11/23/2011

    " The personal accounts really undulated from interesting to stone cold boring. I probably would have liked a little more science at the expense of some of the personal stuff. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Troy | 10/31/2011

    " I thought this was a really great overview on the history of electricity, the discoverers and innovators who helped shape today's technology. This is a very basic view on the subject, but very accessible and informative. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Cassandra Silva | 2/21/2011

    " This was pretty basic. I don't necessarily think that makes it entirely bad, but perhaps I was not the best audience for this one. It was short though and had a few stories that I was not aware of. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Kathy | 1/26/2011

    " I gobbled this up so fast that I could have gotten quite a large shock. Bodanis is truly gifted in describing, exploring, and explaining the wonder and the science and the history of electricity. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Jim | 1/17/2011

    " a good primer for the history of the development for electricity and gives a basic understanding of how electricity works. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Michael | 7/1/2010

    " A fantastic look at the modern history of electricity, highlighting stories of the people behind the telephone, light bulb, radio, radar and more. Bodanis finishes with a look at life and how we use electricity within our own bodies. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Janan | 3/13/2010

    " A fascinating, understandable book about the ways (often surprising) that electricity, in its many permutations, rules the world. Bodanis has the ability to be selective about what he includes, to vary the pacing, change the mood and generally entertain while enlightening. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Sarah | 7/23/2009

    " An amazingly clear layout of how we've stumbled across all the great finds in the history of electricity. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Hakija | 7/5/2009

    " This book is outstanding if you are interested in electricity. Fantastic! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Kevin | 3/19/2009

    " The story/history of electricity, or at least its discovery and utilization by our society. Very intriguing. Was not dry in the least, amazingly. Lots of detailed info without being overwhelming. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Myke | 3/9/2009

    " The personal accounts really undulated from interesting to stone cold boring. I probably would have liked a little more science at the expense of some of the personal stuff. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Rich | 3/2/2009

    " Really cool history of modernity told through breakthroughs in electricity. Also highlighted the somewhat sad ends that great innovators such as Alan Turing met. Left me with tons of fun facts for dinner parties. "

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About the Author
David Bodanis taught a survey of intellectual history at the University of Oxford for many years. He is the author of several books, including The Secret House and the bestselling E=mc2, which was translated into more than twenty languages. A native of Chicago, he lives in London. His website can be found at davidbodanis.com.