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The Battery: How Portable Power Sparked a Technological Revolution Hardcover – Bargain Price, March 16, 2010
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Top Customer Reviews
The development of transistors and integrated chips reduced the power requirements for existing devices, such as radios, as well as making new devices (among the older ones, electronic watches and calculators) possible, thereby extending the uses of batteries. The last two short chapters 18, and 19, as well as the epilogue, do focus more specifically on battery and capacitor development since roughly the 1980s.
Being an Electrical Engineer I found the authors credibility sink lower each time I came across another of many technical errors. At the very least I expect any technical author to know the difference between voltage and current when writing a book on batteries; I found well over a dozen different technical errors in the 300 pages.
Having said all that I also have to say I did very much enjoy the book, it was a good historical read and held my attention until the last pages. I would recommend it to others as long as they read it like a novel and not try and expand themselves technologically from it.
There is very little information on the development or details of various kinds of batteries. What technological problems had to be solved? Why were some battery chemistries chosen over others? (Why, for instance, is the lead-acid battery still used to start cars, even after all these years?) Why do we have today's particular sizes and voltages?
In addition, the book is full of errors. For example, the terms "charge", "current", "voltage" and "power" are often used as if they mean the same thing; frequently one of these words is used when another is called for. There are mis-statements about chemistry and sometimes seeming confusion about the meaning and use of series versus parallel connections of batteries. (The correct principles here would be clarified in an introductory physics or chemistry class; one doesn't need an advanced degree to discover them.) Being that this is a book about batteries and electrical devices, these errors matter.
There are other cases of attempted explanations or descriptions of devices (vacuum tubes, for instance) that don't give one any idea of how they work, but instead just name a few trivial, unconnected facts about them.
There are some mildly interesting stories in the book, but usually they are only remotely related to batteries.
The first few chapters discuss the developments in science which showed how electricity could be generated and stored. There is a drawing of a Leyden jar and discussions of Ben Franklin’s experiments with a kite. Finally we get to Galvani who showed how chopped frogs’ legs could jump if sparked with electricity. This lead to the first battery by Alessandro Volta who discovered dissimilar metals could create electricity. Alternating pieces of silver and zinc separated by wet cards created electricity. In 1800, this became known as the voltaic pile.
Soon the book turns to Michael Faraday, the bookbinder’s apprentice who became one the most prominent scientists of the 19th century. Faraday’s work on electrical power is important in the history of batteries, but Schlesinger felt he deserved an entire chapter. This is my one complaint of the book: historical characters close to the author’s interest get an inordinate amount of attention. I would’ve preferred to hear more about how John Daniell came up with his “constant battery” in 1836. At least the author gives Joseph Henry (who was a contemporary of Faraday) some credit for his work on electromagnets.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Ditto for the other 5-Star reviews on this book. Highly recommend this book for understanding the world as it is today. Read morePublished 9 months ago by Julie Scott
I really enjoy these kinds of books. As an EE/CSE it's fascinating to learn not only about the math and science used to develop the concepts we use, but also the men and women who... Read morePublished 12 months ago by Cameron
This book is as much about the history of electricity, and the devices (ie. the telegraph) that required battery power. It is still a very interesting and informative book. Read morePublished 17 months ago by Michael Reed
Great book on the history of the battery. I had trouble finding other books on the topic, so I was worried that as the only one this might be subpar, but it was very good. Read morePublished 18 months ago by Jennifer
It's hard to believe the lowly, little battery has had such a long and eventful history. All of the technology we take for granted today trace back to a curiosity that began with... Read morePublished 22 months ago by Robert Sherrod
The title of this book belies its value as a broad historical account of man's progress in electricity and electronics from ancient civilizations to the present era. Read morePublished on December 21, 2013 by J. Wood
I was really looking forward to reading this book.
Unfortunately my enjoyment was totally ruined by the frequent and appalling technical errors. Read more
This was a very informative and entertaining book .I really enjoyed it. Ilearned about the history of batteries and how important they are.Published on September 10, 2013 by andrew Zuddans