Technical Difficulties from on Top of the Mountain
  Empires of Light -- A book report
This summer has been flying by, but between periods of frantic coding and yard work, I have managed to get some reading done.

One very good book I've managed to finish is Empires of Light by Jill Jonnes (recommend from an EE times article dated Feb 2004, yes I'm a little behind on my EE Times reading as well). While it focuses mostly on the race to make use of electricity and build an electric infrastructure in the united states by Edison, Westinghouse and Telsa; there's also a very interesting section at the beginning on the foundation of electricity which I found facinating.

While investators into natural phenomina had been playing with static electricity for hundreds of years, things really got cooking around 1780 when Volta build the first battery. (more images here and here).

Not only did this revolutionize the investigation of electricity and eletrical effects, but it also revolutionized chemistry, as Humphry Davy not only demonstrated that the battery worked by electrochemical reaction, but he was able to extract the raw elements Sodium (Na) and Potassium (K) which did not exist otherwise in nature (nor could these metals be formed by chemical reduction as they are each the most positivly charged in their atomic groups). He went on to further extract Magnesium, Calcium, Barium and Strontium.

Not satisfied to only revolutionize chemistry and the understanding of the battery, Davy also invented the arc light, forming useful (though limited in life) work from this electric stuff.

Even with all these accomplishments, Davy will probably be remembered most for discovering something else entirely: Michael Faraday. Besides becoming a brilliant chemist (discovering benzene and the process for the liquefaction of gasses), Faraday was encouraged to look into electromagnitism, and would soon discovery the process of generating electricity from magnatism and invent a number of electric generators.

With all the scientific foundations laid out, it was now time for the engineers to come in and make it useful.

SF Chronicle review of Empires
Jill Jonnes: NY unplugged, article
wikidpedia on Fichael Faraday
The Royal Instituion Biography on Michael Faraday

Experimental Researches in Chemistry and Physics
The Chemical History of a Candle

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Paul Graham's Essays
You may not want to write in Lisp, but his advise on software, life and business is always worth listening to.
How to save the world
Dave Pollard working on changing the world .. one partially baked idea at a time.
Eric Snowdeal IV - born 15 weeks too soon, now living a normal baby life.
Land and Hold Short
The life of a pilot.

The best of?
Jan '04
The second best villain of all times.

Feb '04
Oops I dropped by satellite.
New Jets create excitement in the air.
The audience is not listening.

Mar '04
Neat chemicals you don't want to mess with.
The Lack of Practise Effect

Apr '04
Scramjets take to the air
Doing dangerous things in the fire.
The Real Way to get a job

May '04
Checking out cool tools (with the kids)
A master geek (Ink Tank flashback)
How to play with your kids

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