, Volume 27, Issue 1, pp 165–167 | Cite as

The latest telling of a remarkable life in Victorian science

Basil Mahon: The forgotten genius of Oliver Heaviside: a maverick of electrical science. Amherst, NY: Prometheus Books, 2017, 288 pp, $26 HB
  • Paul J. Nahin
Book Review

Imagine that you are at a movie theater, and the film opens with this shocking scene: a young boy, peering through a gap in a broken backyard fence, sees an old man, wrapped in a dirty nightgown, wandering at random about a large room. The room is empty except for several huge boulders. As he moves from rock to rock, the man raises his hands over his head and snaps his fingers together. Fingers with nails painted in a bright red polish. This is not the opening of a new horror movie, but rather is a depiction of the last, sad years of one of the strangest men of science that England has produced (and she has produced more than a few eccentrics).

The man is Oliver Heaviside (1850–1925), a Fellow of the Royal Society, and he was behind a great deal of our present-day electrical technology; technology that powers the numerous gadgets (once found only in science fiction but now taken for granted) that have, for better or worse, wired the entire planet into a world of near-instantaneous,...

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V., part of Springer Nature 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Electrical EngineeringUniversity of New HampshireDurhamUSA

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