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Much ADO about Almost Nothing: Man's Encounter with the Electron

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ISBN-13: 978-0615139951
ISBN-10: 0615139957
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About the Author

Hans Camenzind is a well-known microchip designer. Born in Switzerland, he now lives in San Francisco. He has written three textbooks in his field. This is his first book written for the general public.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Booklocker.com, Inc. (February 16, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0615139957
  • ISBN-13: 978-0615139951
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,093,876 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By M. Hamed on March 13, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a fascinating book. I enjoyed reading it, and it is actually one of the few books that I have read cover to cover. The stories are engaging and the history is inspiring. I think it makes a big difference if you have a background in technology or physics since it builds up your curiosity.

The one thing I didn't like about the book, and I don't really know if it's the author fault or just the state of things is that the names / dates are so many that it can become confusing sometimes. So it makes good for a second read to follow up on what you missed.

The book also chronicles about greed and how some of the most brilliant guys in history have been crushed by patents/lawyers/monopoly/bigger companies. Particularly saddening is the story of Armstrong the father of modern Radio. It takes more than a brilliant mind to succeed.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Craig W. French on August 30, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Hans Camenzind, inventor of the 555 timer and author of "Designing Analog Chips", has written perhaps one of the best science books available in "Much Ado About Almost Nothing". A nearly comprehensive account of the discovery and uses of the electron, this book is readable for the layperson, entertaining and accurate. No technical knowledge is required to enjoy this book. It should be required reading for high school and junior high school science students. Camenzind's aim is to "follow man's encounter with the electron...how a few people overcame their superstitions and began to investigate; how the electron gradually became useful, though man still had no idea what it was; how it finally revealed itself and then grew in importance to such an extent that we are completely, utterly dependent on it." He easily achieves this goal, covering the period 600 B.C. through 2007 A.D., illuminating the development of electricity, magnetism, gravity, the telegraph, telephone, light bulb, phonograph, electric motor, generator, direct current and alternating current, cathode rays, X rays, vacuum tube, radio, television, computers and transistors. Along the way, readers learn the biographies of more than seventy experimenters and inventors, including Thales, Maricourt, Gilbert, von Guericke, Gray, Dufay, von Muschenbrock, Nollet, Franklin, Bell, Watson, Edison, Tesla, Westinghouse, Maxwell, Hertz, Marconi, Roentgen, Thomson, Millikan, Rutherford, Bohr, Fleming, Pickard, De Forest, Sarnoff, Armstrong, Nipkow, Baird, Farnsworth, Zworykin, Pascal, Leibniz, Babbage, Boole, Hollerith, Zuse, Stibitz, Aiken, Atanasoff, Mauchly, Watson, Braun, Shockley, Brattain, Bardeen, Teal, Noyce, Moore, Hoerni, Kilby and Hoff, as well as other secondary and tertiary contributors.Read more ›
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Andrew Larson on March 4, 2009
Format: Paperback
This quick run through the development of electron harnessing devices is hilarious and insightful. A great read for anyone evem remotely interested in electronics and electricity. No need for any previous understanding of electricity or the terminolgy used to discuss it. Trust me, you'll like this book.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Kevin S. Hilbiber on September 28, 2008
Format: Paperback
"Uncle" Hans really did his homework here; and there is a ton of homework to be done to collect the experiences of all those people who made it possible for me to type this up for this Amazon review on the internet!

Definitely cost effective, too. A better deal I have never gotten.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Ashvini Vishvakarma on February 22, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
"Uncle Hans" has done it again. Another stunner, after the 'Designing Analog Chips' book. I Came to know about this book while researching Analog Chips. I bought it immediately. And boy! was I glad that i did.

Its a book unlike anything i had ever read. Did you know that Cavendish was $rich$ and a recluse ? and he fired any maid who came into his view in his mansion ?

Go get it.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Zimmerli May Dr on April 12, 2007
Format: Paperback
This book describes the history of the electron, the "almost nothing", from the days it was unknown until our present time. Luckily the author writes in a language that any layman can easily understand, without boring the expert either. Thanks to clear explanations and many illustrations, the functioning of magnets, cathode-ray-tubes or transistors becomes less of a mystery.

However the technical aspect of this enormous development over the last century is only one part of the subject. We probably all remember from our school days what a Faraday cage is, what Ohm's law says or that Edison might have something to do with grandpa's gramophone. But do we know anything about Mr. Faraday, Mr. Ohm or Mr. Edison; their life, personality, character? Now here is what makes this reading so interesting: Hans Camenzind tells us all about more than 30 people whose inventions and discoveries contributed so much to the growth of the little "almost nothing" to the prominent role it plays today. Suddenly these persons come alive and we read about their achievements, ambitions and frustrations, successes and tragedies. And this very human side also includes some humorously presented little episodes.

All in all, this is an enjoyable and fascinating book and I believe I will not be the only one to have read it from A to Z in one go.

Reini Zimmerli
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Mark Liebman on April 11, 2009
Format: Paperback
I really enjoyed reading this book. What a find! Hans Camenzind makes his come alive. Reading it was a LOT more enjoyable than any History of Science in college or any history show I have seen on television.

As I was reading the book, its story telling style rekindled the sense of amazement and delight I felt as a young teenager experimenting with electronics. Coincidentally, some of those projects were built with the 555 timer chip Hans designed 35 years ago.

It's a fair bet anyone you share this with will enjoy it too.
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