Tesla: The Wizard of Electricity Rises to #1 Bestseller in its Category

Tesla: The Wizard of Electricity reached #1 Bestseller status in the “Scientists – General & Miscellaneous – Biography” category on Barnes and Noble. The book has always been a top seller in several categories but an ongoing sale has helped push it into the #1 spot.

Best sellers Scientists General Misc Biography 30June2015

It also reached #2 in the “History of Science” category and #3 in two other science biography categories.

Best sellers History of Science 30June2015

According to the publisher, Fall River Press, an imprint of the big New York City publishing house, Sterling Publishing, Tesla: The Wizard of Electricity has been a smashing success. Published originally two years ago, the 4th printing of the book comes out this month and a 5th printing has already been scheduled for release in October so that there is plenty of stock on hand for the big holiday gift giving seasons. The current sale is time-limited, so if you haven’t gotten your copy yet now is a good time to get one on Barnes and Noble.com.

Because of how well Tesla is doing, Fall River Press is using it to kick off a series of books on great inventors in a similar style and design. Next up is Thomas Edison and I’ve been diligently writing it for many months, and I’ll present the manuscript to the publisher in early August. You should see it in Barnes and Noble stores by early 2016. Assuming Edison is as successful as Tesla, there could be many more in the series. Suggestions on other inventors to cover are welcome.

Back to writing.

David J. Kent has been a scientist for over thirty years, is an avid science traveler, and an independent Abraham Lincoln historian. He is the author of Tesla: The Wizard of Electricity and the e-book Nikola Tesla: Renewable Energy Ahead of Its Time. He is currently writing a book on Thomas Edison.

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Abraham Lincoln and the DACOR Bacon House

The Lincoln Group of DC had the privilege of being invited to the DACOR Bacon House, a historic landmark in Washington DC, for a luncheon highlighted by Kenneth Winkle, author of Lincoln’s Citadel: The Civil War in Washington, D.C. Dr. Winkle’s talk was enlightening, and the DACOR Bacon House was spectacular.

DACOR Bacon House

Sitting just two blocks away from the White House, this early 19th-century house has withstood the onslaught of modern government buildings as it served a succession of important personages of the ages. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Marshall lived there, as did a later Chief Justice, Melville Fuller, several Associate Justices, a former Governor of Maryland, a Senator from Illinois, a Representative from New York, and the odd heiress and countess, all of whom have called the house home over is nearly 200 year history.

Currently the house provides a charming manor for members of DACOR, the Diplomatic And Consulate Officers, Retired, to meet. Members can drop in any time for meals, drinks, and lectures such as the Winkle talk that I was able to attend. Usually restricted to DACOR members, Executive Director Susan Cimburek invited members of the Lincoln Group of DC to join the talk because of the superb liaison work of Elizabeth Smith Brownstein, author of Lincoln’s Other White House.

DACOR Bacon House

Besides the Civil War topic of this particular speaker, the house has another, more direct, connection with Abraham Lincoln. During the Civil War the house was owned by William and Sally Carroll, with whom the Lincoln’s became good friends. Despite the trials of the ongoing war, the Lincoln’s found occasion to visit with the Carrolls and even attended the wedding of their daughter. When tragedy struck in early 1863, taking the life of little Willie Lincoln, he was kept in the Carroll’s mausoleum until April of 1865, when his body rode back to Springfield on the same funeral train that carried the assassinated President.

Willie Lincoln

As Vice-President of Outreach and Education for the Lincoln Group of DC I want to again thank Susan Cimbulek and Elizabeth Smith Brownstein for arranging our presence at this lecture. We will be continuing our collaborations in the future, so stay tuned.

David J. Kent has been a scientist for over thirty years, is an avid science traveler, and an independent Abraham Lincoln historian. He is the author of Tesla: The Wizard of Electricity and the e-book Nikola Tesla: Renewable Energy Ahead of Its Time. He is currently writing a book on Thomas Edison.

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Katharine Hayhoe at the Citizens’ Climate Lobby 2015 (from The Dake Page)

CCL logoThis week the Citizens’ Climate Lobby (CCL) held its 6th annual International Conference in Washington, DC. The keynote speaker was Dr. Katharine Hayhoe, an atmospheric scientist at Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Texas. In addition to being a climate scientist, Hayhoe is an evangelical Christian, which generally would be irrelevant to the discussion except that she, with her husband, pastor Andrew Farley, wrote A Climate for Change: Global Warming Facts for Faith-Based Decisions. The fact that most religions have acknowledged the science was emphasized this past week with the release of the Pope’s climate and environmental encyclical last week.

Dr. Hayhoe offered several valuable points during her presentation, several of which are worth expanding upon.

Most scientists are conservative: Conservative in the true sense of the term, not the hijacked definition of “conservatism” that is prevalent in today’s political circles. Scientists, and science in general, are inherently conservative. Science is built on incremental gains in knowledge derived over time from thousands of scientific studies looking at ever smaller pieces of the puzzle. With respect to climate science, rather than be “alarmist” (as climate deniers falsely claim), scientists actually have traditionally downplayed the risks from climate change. In fact, as more and more data are collected, and as we see climate change impacting Arctic sea ice, land-based ice sheet melting, and other visible signs of change, the data have clearly shown scientists that have been underestimating the dangers.

Scientists are hesitant to speak out: Historically, scientists have tended to stay in their “ivory towers” doing research, either in the laboratory or out in the field. They have left the communication of the science to others (e.g., journalists, teachers), and done the same for policy decisions (policy-makers). Part of the reason is that policy-making isn’t particularly interesting to scientists, but part of it is because scientists have been so often attacked for simply documenting the science. You can ask Galileo about how trying to communicate science worked out for him, or in more recent times you can ask climate scientists like Ben Santer, Jim Hansen, and Michael Mann, all of whom have been viciously and falsely attacked by climate denier lobbyists.

The data are out there: One common fallacy is that the public will understand the need to take action if only we can just get more of the science to them. While communicating science to the public can often be difficult, the problem isn’t a shortage of information or the lack of trying to get it across. Just in the last two years there have been a swarm of “state-of-the-science” reports, including (but not limited to) the IPCC AR5, the US Climate Assessment, a National Academy of Science/Royal Society report, and many others. All have the same basic message:

“warming of the climate system is unequivocal” and “human influence has been the dominant cause of the warming.”

So the public has the information it needs to understand. Many do understand, while others either are too busy living their lives to care (which is perfectly fine) or choose to deny the science (which is not fine).

[Read the rest at The Dake Page]

The above is a partial cross-post of a full article on The Dake Page. Please click on the link above to read further. Thanks.

David J. Kent has been a scientist for over thirty years, is an avid science traveler, and an independent Abraham Lincoln historian. He is the author of Tesla: The Wizard of Electricity and the e-book Nikola Tesla: Renewable Energy Ahead of Its Time. He is currently writing a book on Thomas Edison.

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In Search of Nature (from Hot White Snow)

Beaver damageRecently I marveled at the nature around us, and then today I realized how much of it is no longer there. This point was emphasized as I read the following:

Most of us live in cities where the number of visible wild species was long ago winnowed down to a few dozen. The sight of anything wilder than a sparrow, pigeon, or a squirrel makes the hearts of urban dwellers soar like the eagles we nearly exterminated.

The quote is from a book called Fire in the Turtle House by Osha Gray Davidson. The focus is on the plight of the green sea turtle in Hawai’i, but this line resonated with me in a more personal sense. I commonly walk from our suburban townhouse over to a small pond surrounded by woods. “Woods” in this case is defined as the residual trees and underbrush remaining after developers have decimated the natural forest and replaced it with townhouse farms, groups of homes that have grown like corporate cornfields in this area of northern Virginia.

Still, I live for these walks. The robins, cardinals, mockingbirds, occasional sparrows, and rare wrens are joined each spring and summer by swarms of geese, many with new families that we matronly watch over as they grow through their baby down into adolescent feathers. We watch as the toothy shavings of yet another small tree reveals the nightly work of an unseen beaver. A green heron makes an appearance in search of food. The occasional great blue heron does indeed make my heart soar.

[Continue reading on Hot White Snow]

The above is a partial of a full article “On Writing” on Hot White Snow, my creative writing blog. Please click on the link above to read further. Thanks.

David J. Kent has been a scientist for over thirty years, is an avid science traveler, and an independent Abraham Lincoln historian. He is the author of Tesla: The Wizard of Electricity and the e-book Nikola Tesla: Renewable Energy Ahead of Its Time. He is currently writing a book on Thomas Edison.

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Nikola Tesla and the Two Sides of Budapest

Budapest is the capital of Hungary. It also played a key role in Nikola Tesla’s greatest discovery and in the development of modern technology. There are two sides to Budapest, and I got to explore both of them a few years ago.

Spanning the banks of the beautiful and broad Danube River, the second longest river in Europe, Budapest used to be two cities (or three, depending on how you count). Buda, on the western bank, is the former capital of the Kingdom of Hungary. Sitting high on the hill is the Buda Castle and the Citadel.

Buda Castle, Budapest, Hungary

On the opposite, eastern, bank is Pest. Mostly flat (compared to the hilly Buda), its most prominent feature is the newer Parliament Building, though you might think it looks more like some sort of sprawling cathedral. It remains the largest building in all of Hungary, and the tallest in Budapest. And yes, it was rainy during my entire visit.

Parliament, Budapest, Hungary

Buda and Pest were merged into the single city of Budapest in 1873. Nine years later, Nikola Tesla had moved to Budapest expecting to take a job working for Alexander Graham Bell’s new telephone company. The job turned out to be nonexistent, but Tesla was able to find work at the Central Telegraph Office, where he soon found himself sinking into a profound depression. It was during one of his episodic visions he discovered the principles that led to his most famous invention – the alternating current polyphase system of electricity. You can read more about that in this excerpt from my Tesla: The Wizard of Electricity book.

Budapest offers other interests to science travelers like myself. It houses the European Institute of Innovation and Technology, eighteen different Universities, Roman spas, and of course the beautiful Danube River itself.

During my time in Europe I was able to see several of the places that Nikola Tesla spent time, including Budapest, Austria, Strasbourg, Slovenia, Prague, London, and Paris. Still on my list to see are Belgrade and Lika. I look forward to that adventure.

David J. Kent has been a scientist for over thirty years, is an avid science traveler, and an independent Abraham Lincoln historian. He is the author of Tesla: The Wizard of Electricity and the e-book Nikola Tesla: Renewable Energy Ahead of Its Time. He is currently writing a book on Thomas Edison.

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The Pope’s Climate Encyclical and Why Climate Deniers are Their Own Worst Enemy (From The Dake Page)

Pope climate encyclicalIt should go without saying that when you deny reality long enough, eventually reality makes you look foolish. Climate deniers have been denying the science behind man-made climate change for so long that they have lost even the illusion of credibility. They have become their own worst enemy, and as such have put themselves on a path of complete irrelevancy.

Deniers have chosen this path, of course. By blatantly denying even the most basic science and by egregiously promoting the most obvious and ludicrous falsehoods, deniers have marginalized themselves to the point of inconsequentiality. Deniers now find themselves being taken as seriously as Donald Trump’s presidential run. Yes, they have become that buffoonish.

And alone.

Deniers used to hide behind ideological blinders, seeking protection for their anti-science beliefs in the arms of “conservatives,” the “religious,” and “Republican” comfort groups. Now deniers find themselves in a category among themselves. In contrast, intellectually honest and informed people who identify within these traditional labels no longer provide cover for denial.

Religions do not condone denial of the science

This point is brought home as Pope Francis, leader of the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics, issues the Vatican’s papal encyclical on climate change and the environment. [Here is a summary of the main points; and here is the full letter, in English] In it the Pope acknowledges the unequivocal science demonstrating human activity is causing our climate to warm, and that the changes observed and coming present a significant risk to humanity.

Let me stop here and reinforce this to make it clear, because this is a point that climate deniers have intentionally tried to confuse as they attack the Pope.

[Continue reading the full post on The Dake Page]

The above is a partial cross-post of a full article on The Dake Page. Please click on the link above to read further. Thanks.

David J. Kent has been a scientist for over thirty years, is an avid science traveler, and an independent Abraham Lincoln historian. He is the author of Tesla: The Wizard of Electricity and the e-book Nikola Tesla: Renewable Energy Ahead of Its Time. He is currently writing a book on Thomas Edison.

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Tesla and Electric Cars in Scandinavia

More and more I see electric cars around the United States, mostly the obvious ones like the Tesla Model S and an occasional plug-in hybrid like the Chevy Volt, plus the obvious non-plug-in hybrids like Toyota Prius. But this pales to the number of electric cars that I saw in Norway, Denmark, and Sweden. One reason – access to charging stations.

Tesla car

Elon Musk has been working hard to install charging stations throughout the major driving corridors of the US. The government has not been all that helpful in that regard; in fact, because of oil and auto manufacturer lobbying (and Congress’s inability to function), our government inaction still works against the widespread distribution of electric cars. Europe has taken the opposite approach.

Electric cars in Oslo

In Copenhagen, there were a couple of charging stations right next to the famed city hall. In Stockholm, charging stations were also present, while in Oslo they have put a huge focus on electric vehicles. The photo above shows charging stations lined up and down both sides of the street. Interestingly, this particular spot was up against the old stone fortress walls made so famous in Jo Nesbo books. It shows that the old and new are compatible.

Norway EV Sales

While it was nice to see so many Tesla Model S cars, the predominant electric vehicle (EV) was actually the Nissan Leaf. According to Clean Technica, the Leaf has grabbed a huge lead in market share in Norway. The graphic above shows that Leaf sales made up 55% of the total EV sales in January 2014, almost four times the next electric car (Volkswagen’s e-Up!) and almost five times the Tesla Model S. Fully electric vehicles (EVs) dwarfed the number of plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) in Norway (and in Denmark, where 100% of EVs were full plug-ins). Oddly enough, PHEVs were ahead of full EVs in Sweden, in part because of the popularity of Mitsubishi’s Outlander PHEV and the lack of availability of the Tesla Model S.

Besides the greater environmental awareness of Scandinavians compared to Americans, drivers in Sweden, Denmark, and Norway already have access to the type of electrical sockets needed for EVs. These countries also offer much better financial incentives to help drivers move away from fossil fuel based engines to more sustainable engine technology.  They have also done a better job at facilitating charging stations, most of which are free to the public.

As you’ll see in that last link, charging stations for EVs and PHEVs are starting to appear in more and more places in the US as well, which should mean faster adoption of electric and hybrid vehicles in the near future. Eventually, all our vehicles may be EVs. That would go a long way to reducing our dependence on oil-based energy and our contributions to man-made climate change.

I’ll have more science traveling updates from Scandinavia, as well as from the Everglades, Yosemite, Argentina, and the other places I’ve visited since I embarked on this new career. Stay tuned (and feel free to wander around previous posts by clicking on “Travel” in the category list below).

David J. Kent has been a scientist for over thirty years, is an avid science traveler, and an independent Abraham Lincoln historian. He is the author of Tesla: The Wizard of Electricity and the e-book Nikola Tesla: Renewable Energy Ahead of Its Time. He is currently writing a book on Thomas Edison.

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The People’s Republic of Chinese Chemicals and The Puppet Suit

No, this isn’t the name of some bizarre new Chinese opera or dance troupe, it’s a mashup of two new posts on The Dake Page and Hot White Snow. The former has a book review of The People’s Republic of China Chemicals; the latter a response to a microfiction writing prompt. Excerpts are below with links to the full originals.

Peoples Republic of ChemicalsBook Review: The People’s Republic of China Chemicals by William J. Kelly and Chip Jacobs (The Dake Page)

An important book, poorly written. The People’s Republic of China Chemicals purports to reveal how the offshoring of American manufacturing to China helped China become the most polluted country on the planet. It does achieve that goal, though perhaps in spite of itself. While the title suggests a discussion on chemicals, the vast preponderance of the book is focused on the massive air pollution problems in China. This isn’t surprising given the authors’ previous collaboration, a book about the smoggy days of Los Angeles.

The early chapters provide some historical background on China’s dynastic rule and frequent invasions by the Japanese, the British, and others, as well as its own political infighting. Their overly rosy characterization of Mao’s various attempts to control everything once he and the communists took over is somewhat naïve – or at the very least, incomplete – but they generally capture the essence of how China came to set itself up as the world’s factory. The authors’ explanation of how entry into the World Trade Organization (WTO) and various bilateral and multilateral trade agreements spurred the rapid growth of industry and economy, while perhaps overly rancorous, is well done.

In short, the book documents through rapid-fire detail and personal anecdote the rise of Chinese manufacturing and with it the extraordinary increase in coal-based pollution. The authors relate how bad the air pollution has become, and the subterfuge of the Chinese government to deny its existence even as giant screens in Tiananmen Square broadcast barely visible images of splendid panoramic vistas through the gritty air.

[Continue reading on The Dake Page]

HalloweenThe Puppet Suit (Hot White Snow)

“Well, you clean up nice.”

Apparently she had never seen him in a suit before. But here he was, dressed up like some Wall Street tycoon in hopes of making an impression. Unfortunately, the interview hadn’t gone as well as the suit made him look. It was fine until the interviewer pulled out the puppets. Not what he expected for an investment firm, for sure. When the guy started using the puppets to explain how his firm and other “too-big-to-fail” firms had manipulated the global financial meltdown and still took multi-million dollar bonuses…

I walked out.

[See the original and the writing prompt this is response to on Hot White Snow]

Also watch for my new book on Thomas Edison. A companion to Tesla: The Wizard of Electricity, EDISON is due out in early 2016 from Sterling Publishing.

David J. Kent has been a scientist for over thirty years, is an avid science traveler, and an independent Abraham Lincoln historian. He is the author of Tesla: The Wizard of Electricity and the e-book Nikola Tesla: Renewable Energy Ahead of Its Time. He is currently writing a book on Thomas Edison.

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Nikola Tesla and Abraham Lincoln – Connected at the Players Club

Lincoln and Tesla Connected by Fate coverAs I’ve mentioned before, Nikola Tesla and Abraham Lincoln have a surprising number of connections between them. I’m currently writing about them in my new ebook called (unsurprisingly) Abraham Lincoln and Nikola Tesla – Connected by Fate, due out this summer on Amazon.com.

One unexpected, and somewhat ironic, connection revolved around key players in Lincoln’s assassination, at a club called The Players.

During his most socially-active period Nikola Tesla hung out with some of the more famous personages of the time. Among his friends were Samuel Clemens (aka, Mark Twain), John Muir, Robert Underwood Johnson, Sarah Bernhardt, and others. One of his favorite places to relax was The Players, a social club established to “bring actors into contact with men of different professions such as industrialists, writers and other creative artists.” Nikola Tesla was one of those men.

The Players, by the way, was started by famous Shakesperean actor, Edwin Booth. Yes, that Edwin Booth, older brother of the more infamous John Wilkes Booth, assassin of Abraham Lincoln.

Illegitimate son of the world-renowned actor, Junius Brutus Booth, Edwin went on to establish himself as a superior actor on his own. His two brothers, Junius Jr. and John Wilkes, equally illegitimate, also became actors, though one not as famous and the other more infamous. After the assassination, Edwin disowned John Wilkes and eventually resumed acting, making the title role in Hamlet his signature.

Edwin established The Players in 1888 and died in 1893 just as Nikola Tesla was lighting up the “White City” at the Chicago World’s Fair.

There is much more to the story, of course, and I’ll have that in Abraham Lincoln and Nikola Tesla – Connected by Fate. Watch for it on Amazon later this summer.

Also watch for my new book on Thomas Edison. A companion to Tesla: The Wizard of Electricity, EDISON is due out in early 2016 from Sterling Publishing.

David J. Kent has been a scientist for over thirty years, is an avid science traveler, and an independent Abraham Lincoln historian. He is the author of Tesla: The Wizard of Electricity and the e-book Nikola Tesla: Renewable Energy Ahead of Its Time. He is currently writing a book on Thomas Edison.

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How Climate Scientists Can Communicate the Science to the Public (from The Dake Page)

Huh CommunicationLast week we took a look at how climate scientists can communicate the science to policy-makers, so today in Part 3 we’ll look at how scientists can communicate directly with the public. Together these are a three-part series on how to communicate climate science to all three target audiences – other scientists, policy-makers, and the public.

Communicating with the public is actually the most important of the three target audiences, and the one that scientists are least likely to have spent much time doing in their careers. And that’s a shame because policymakers (notwithstanding the disproportionate influence of lobbyists and rich campaign donors) are most influenced by public opinion. It is the public who are the real drivers of change. It is they who give policymakers permission (or pressure) to take action. If enough of their constituents demand action, they will act.

But reaching out to the public is inherently more difficult for scientists. Scientists, like all professionals, have usually spent considerable time (and expense) getting specific education, training, and life experience in their area of expertise than the general public. In these days of specialization it seems we all have our expertise, whether it be in some climate related science, economics, brain surgery, law, plumbing, or bridge design. Each field builds up its own set of jargon, technical words that have specific meanings within their field but may have no meaning to anyone outside that field (or worse, mean something completely different outside the field).

So it’s critical to reach out to the public, but scientists have to do so in ways that can be understood and are meaningful. Here are a few examples, though this by no means should be considered an exhaustive list:

1) Speak at libraries, churches, schools, etc.: Talk about science in a church? Of course. I was recently in a church whose stained glass windows included one celebrating several of our greatest scientists – Albert Einstein, George Washington Carver, and others. Libraries, churches, and schools all have one thing in common – they are places where the community comes together to learn. Off to give a talk about your area of specialty.

[Continue reading items 2 through 5 on The Dake Page]

The above is a partial cross-post of a full article on The Dake Page. Please click on the link above to read further. Thanks.

David J. Kent has been a scientist for over thirty years, is an avid science traveler, and an independent Abraham Lincoln historian. He is the author of Tesla: The Wizard of Electricity and the e-book Nikola Tesla: Renewable Energy Ahead of Its Time. He is currently writing a book on Thomas Edison.

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