10 February 2015

Road to Renewable

A physicist plots a plausible course for an all-renewable energy supply, encountering an occasional headwind along the way.

Energy Revolution: The Physics and the Promise of Efficient Technology. Mara Prentiss. 352 pages. Belknap/Harvard University Press.

By Old Dane, Creative Commons.
By Old Dane, Creative Commons.

This ambitious book sets out the underlying physics of converting the U.S. energy supply to 100 percent renewable energy sources. The topic is timely and deserves much discussion as policymakers grapple with Environmental Protection Agency regulations on power plants’ carbon dioxide emissions and the availability of competitively priced wind and solar energy.

Large-scale wind farms have been part of the electric grid since the 1980s. Solar energy has begun supplying significant power in only this decade. Practical experience has addressed many questions and myths about variable energy production from wind and solar, although that engineering knowledge is not widely recognized in nontechnical communities. This book brings the reader just inside the door to a place where practical answers can be found. Read More »

12 November 2014

Strange Voyage

A distinguished science historian offers a personal compendium of what he finds most interesting about early modern science, with little attention to strict chronology.

Voyaging in Strange Seas: The Great Revolution in Science. David Knight. 334 pages. Yale University Press.

4 November 2014

Dodging the Shark

Marshaling stories and studies, an expert advises us to stop worrying—to free our minds and conquer problems by approaching them from opposing angles.

It’s Not About the Shark: How to Solve Unsolvable Problems. David Niven. 240 pages. St. Martin’s Press.

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