All in Science

Freeman Dyson's THE SCIENTIST AS REBEL

This collection of essays and reviews by the physicist/mathematician Freeman Dyson makes for fascinating reading. The range of topics is broad and the style of writing is clear and approachable. Topics include religion, hydrogen bombs, Isaac Newton, the relative roles of technology and ideas in the advancement of science, the future of humanity in space (think: comets), and the role of amateurs in scientific research.

Jill Jonnes' EMPIRES OF LIGHT

This is a popular history about three “giants” of electrification — Edison, Westinghouse, and Tesla. Along the way we learn a lot about the commercialization of electricity in late 19th century America and the role that large corporations played in the spread of this technology. We also see how important patents — and patent protection — were in enabling a few powerful individuals to control the spread of the new technology.