Abraham Lincoln, Joseph Henry, and Nikola Tesla – Connected by Fate

When Abraham Lincoln took the presidential oath on March 4, 1861, he would become the first president ever to have obtained a patent. Patent Number 6469 was awarded to Lincoln on May 22, 1849 for a device to lift boats over shoals and obstructions. Lincoln writes in his patent application:

Be it known that I, Abraham Lincoln, of Springfield, in the county of Sangamon, in the state of Illinois, have invented a new and improved manner of combining adjustable buoyant air chambers with a steam boat or other vessel for the purpose of enabling their draught of water to be readily lessened to enable them to pass over bars, or through shallow water, without discharging their cargoes and I do hereby declare the following to be a full, clear, and exact description thereof, reference being had to the accompanying drawings making a part of this specification.

It was the only patent Abraham Lincoln ever received, and the only patent ever given to a President, either before or after their presidency. In contrast, Nikola Tesla had around 300 patents to his name.

Tesla may have had more patents (after all, he was an inventor), but Lincoln always had an interest in invention. During his career as a lawyer he was routinely sought for patent and technologically-dependent legal cases, and during the Civil War he often took matters into his own hands and personally tested some of the biggest technological advances in weaponry. Since he was not classically trained as a scientist – he barely finished one year of formal schooling – Lincoln called on experts to advise him. His biggest scientific adviser during the Civil War was Joseph Henry.

Calling Joseph Henry

Most people likely do not know it, but Nikola Tesla, Thomas Edison, Alexander Graham Bell, Samuel F.B. Morse, Michael Faraday, and others owe their fame, at least in part, to Joseph Henry.

As the Civil War loomed, with Washington D.C. a critical centrality in both the conflict and the potential solution, Joseph Henry was still getting settled into the red sandstone “Castle” that we have all come to know as the symbol of the Smithsonian Institution. The building itself, like the Institution, was relatively new, completed only about six years before Lincoln’s arrival. As the first Secretary of the Smithsonian, and later also as chair of the Permanent Commission to advise the Navy on scientific matters, Henry was one of Abraham Lincoln’s most trusted science advisers. Henry and Lincoln became good friends and worked together to address a wide variety of technological and scientific issues during the Civil War.

So what does Joseph Henry have to do with Nikola Tesla? It turns out, a lot, even though Henry died a few years before Tesla first set foot on American soil.

A precocious child with little interest in formal education, the young Henry stumbled across a book called Lectures on Experimental Philosophy, Astronomy and Chemistry; the book changed his life. Eagerly devouring the scientific principles it contained, Henry began a largely self-taught course in the sciences. Eventually he was taken in by a mentor at the Albany Academy and focused on the nascent field of electricity. Henry excelled in his studies and one day decided to improve upon a weak electromagnet design by William Sturgeon. While the original design used loosely coiled uninsulated wire, Henry wrapped the coils tightly with silk for insulation. The result was four hundred times the original strength. Further improvements led to the powerful electromagnet that became the standard in modern times. This was in 1827, more than fifty years before Tesla came to America.

A few years later, in 1831, Joseph Henry’s innovations led to the first machine to use electromagnetism for motion, effectively, the precursor to the modern direct current motor. It was a simple design, the linear rocking from side to side of a standard electromagnet, but it was the basis for the rotating motion motors eventually designed by Nikola Tesla for his alternating current system. Henry’s simple apparatus allowed him to discover the principle of self-inductance (electromagnetic inductance).

Henry did not stop there. His experiments demonstrated that using an electromagnet in which two electrodes are attached to a battery, winding several coils of wire in parallel worked best. In contrast, if multiple batteries were used, a single long coil was best. This discovery is what made the telegraph feasible.

So why is it we do not hear about Joseph Henry as the father of the electromagnet, or father of the telegraph, or father of self-inductance? In short, Henry was always hesitant to publish any of his work. While he delayed writing up his discoveries, and there were many, others were quick to publish, sometimes after hearing about Henry’s work and “borrowing” it for their own. Famed scientist Michael Faraday, who most credit as the father of self-inductance, actually got at least some of his ideas from a meeting with Joseph Henry; while Henry hesitated, Faraday rushed to publish first. Similarly, Samuel F.B. Morse gets credit for being the father of the telegraph even though it was Joseph Henry’s key discoveries that made it possible; again, after meeting with Henry, Morse took advantage of Henry’s hesitation to publish.

That gets us to Nikola Tesla. Like Thomas Edison and others who developed electric lighting and power in the 1880s and beyond, it was Joseph Henry (and Faraday and others) who had discovered the principles on which the later inventions were based.

In fact, Joseph Henry and Nikola Tesla share yet another claim to fame – both of them have been honored with an international scientific unit (SI). Based on his work with electromagnetic energy, the tesla (T), an SI unit of magnetic flux density and equal to “one weber per square meter,” was named in Tesla’s honor. His forerunner, Joseph Henry, was honored with the SI unit of inductance, the henry (H), for his earlier discoveries in electromagnetic induction.

There are many other connections between Abraham Lincoln and Nikola Tesla, which I discuss in the e-book from which the above is excerpted, Connected by Fate. Joseph Henry, whose early discoveries with electromagnetism, electricity, and the telegraph, became the key principles upon which Nikola Tesla and others made names for themselves years later, was just one connection. Check out the book for more.

Also, look for my new book coming out summer 2017: Lincoln: The Man Who Saved America [Click for Prologue]

David J. Kent is the author of Tesla: The Wizard of Electricity (2013) and Edison: The Inventor of the Modern World (2016) (both Fall River Press). He has also written two e-books: Nikola Tesla: Renewable Energy Ahead of Its Time and Abraham Lincoln and Nikola Tesla: Connected by Fate. His next book, Lincoln: The Man Who Saved America, is scheduled for release in summer 2017.

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Three Books about Abraham Lincoln and Charles Darwin

Abraham Lincoln and Charles Darwin were born on the same day – February 12, 1809. Each in their own way became icons of change and are remembered throughout history for their contributions. While you might expect them to have little in common other than their birth dates, several authors have examined the two men together in books. Click on the links for full reviews of each book.

Rebel Giants: The Revolutionary Lives of Abraham Lincoln and Charles Darwin, by David R. Contosta

Lincoln and Darwin: Shared Visions of Race, Science and Religion, by James Lander

Angels and Ages: A Short Book about Darwin, Lincoln, and Modern Life by Adam Gopnik

Look for my new book coming out summer 2017: Lincoln: The Man Who Saved America [Click for Prologue]

David J. Kent is the author of Tesla: The Wizard of Electricity (2013) and Edison: The Inventor of the Modern World (2016) (both Fall River Press). He has also written two e-books: Nikola Tesla: Renewable Energy Ahead of Its Time and Abraham Lincoln and Nikola Tesla: Connected by Fate. His next book, Lincoln: The Man Who Saved America, is scheduled for release in summer 2017.

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If it’s Tuesday…A Quick Look At Brussels

As my “If it’s Tuesday, This Must be Brussels” adventure memory continues to unfold (see here for an explanation), the first step was to get orientated and find housing. That required a trip a month before the actual transfer would take place. Unless you have a place to stay for a while (like, say, two months), you’ll need to take this step.

Others from my company had made short visits prior to my transfer, so there was already an arrangement to stay in a “hotel” used many times before. The place was less of a hotel than a converted old European townhouse with a restaurant on the first floor and single apartments (two room suites) on each of the other two floors. A tiny elevator, when it worked, brought me to the third level where I took up temporary residence for several days. More on this hotel in later posts.

Brussels Office

Then, despite the rather unwelcoming weather (which I would soon find to be the norm), it was off to find the office about a quarter mile down Avenue Louise toward the Bois de la Cambre, a sort of mini-Central Park stretching south away from the “central” part of city. A nine story building with just enough glass to offer a “city view” – check! Desk and chair and spot for my computer – check! A few phone calls and some work not finished on the flight over – check! Now to explore the neighborhood.

Brussels Tram

Good. A tram line runs the length of Avenue Louise, with a junction in front of my new office. That will give me options as I look for a place to live. I also liked the fact that there are many statues and original artwork dressing up the streets. I’ll see a lot more of this in Europe.

Getting off the main avenue I traipse through the gardens of the Abbeye de la Cambre and follow the quiet road past the two ponds of Ixelles and into Flagey, a square and neighborhood featuring a large church.

Church in Flagey

More about Flagey in the future; let’s go back to the ponds. I looked at an apartment, really a garret, in an old house overlooking the pond. The view was beautiful. The ceilings were low. And by low I mean low enough to cause me to involuntarily duck, and low enough to knock out my rental agent when he didn’t duck. Once he regained consciousness, even he admired the lush greenery around the ponds.

Ponds in Ixelles Brussels

From Flagey I would head back across the main road, check out the Chatelain area, and then follow Avenue Louise down to the office. Not bad. This initial exploration was helpful. I got a feel for the area and the limits of how far I wanted to live away from the office. Eventually I would choose a place on the Rue du Magistrat, about 1.2 kilometers (0.75 miles) from the office, which I could walk or hop on the tram. But that is getting ahead of ourselves. There is so much more to do before making the move.

[This is part of a series on living and working in Brussels, but also some hints on how to do it the right way if you’re considering such a big career move. Keep checking back here for more articles, all of which are included in a category called “Tuesday.”]

David J. Kent is the author of Tesla: The Wizard of Electricity (2013) and Edison: The Inventor of the Modern World (2016) (both Fall River Press). He has also written two e-books: Nikola Tesla: Renewable Energy Ahead of Its Time and Abraham Lincoln and Nikola Tesla: Connected by Fate. His next book, Lincoln: The Man Who Saved America, is scheduled for release in summer 2017.

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What to do in Atlanta When You Only Have a Weekend

With Super Bowl weekend fast approaching and the Falcons taking on (my own favorite) New England Patriots, one place to check out is the city of Atlanta. The Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta bills itself as the world’s biggest aquarium, and since I’m an aquarium nut I decided not long ago it was a good time to check out that boast. Here are three things to do in Atlanta on a short visit.

1) Georgia Aquarium: As promised, the aquarium is huge, with one of the biggest single viewing window I’ve ever seen. It was, in fact, the biggest aquarium in the world from its opening in 2005, though was beaten out in 2012 by Marine Life Park in Singapore. The big tank (over 6 million gallons) goes beyond the usual sharks, rays, and groupers to support four whale sharks, the only aquarium outside of Asia to have them. Even the ubiquitous dolphin show is unique, built around a Broadway-esque singer and storyline.

2) World of Coca-Cola: A few steps across a delightful little park is The World of Coca-Cola, home of the soft drink conglomerate. If you’re into sweet carbonated beverages you can taste test over 100 varieties. You can take a guided tour, check out their “secret formula” vault, and take a selfie with the famous corporate polar bear.

World of Coca-Cola

3) Centennial Olympic Park: A discus throw from the aquarium and Coke is the venue of the 1996 Olympics, now repurposed into a wonderful public space in the heart of the city. The Olympic torch still stands (though unlit), as does a children’s play fountain arising from the Olympic rings. A visitor center will help you find your way around, as well as help you find your name on the Olympic bricks if you donated.

Centennial Olympic Park

There is more to see in Atlanta but you might need a longer visit. Near the above three venues is the headquarters of CNN, where you can get tours and watch them do the news live. Take in a pro or college football game at the Georgia Dome, or a basketball game at Philips Arena, or for the more intellectually inclined, the High Museum of Art or Jimmy Carter Presidential Library and Museum.

Enjoy your visit to Atlanta (though I’m still routing for New England).

David J. Kent is the author of Tesla: The Wizard of Electricity (2013) and Edison: The Inventor of the Modern World (2016) (both Fall River Press). He has also written two e-books: Nikola Tesla: Renewable Energy Ahead of Its Time and Abraham Lincoln and Nikola Tesla: Connected by Fate. His next book, Lincoln: The Man Who Saved America, is scheduled for release in summer 2017.

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Moving to Belgium – The Process

A while ago I had the opportunity to move to Belgium for three years, specifically, to Brussels. I wrote an introduction to the topic and called it “If it’s Tuesday, This Must be Belgium,” based on an old movie by that name (see the link for more). My intent was to write a series of posts, and then, not ironically, traveling got in the way and I never really got the series started. Until now.

The Atomium, Brussels, Belgium

The Atomium

 

The process of getting ready to move and work overseas for an extended time was an adventure in itself. So if you’re planning on working in Europe (and other places), the following is what you’ll have to go through. Oh, and while doing all of this I had to continue working on my projects, including many very early morning conference calls with European colleagues and clients.

Luckily, my company at the time sent me a checklist of things to do for the work component. This list doesn’t count all the things I need to do to offload a lot of my home stuff or arrange to rent my house.

  1. Obtain moving quote and submit to Administrator: It was good to know my [now former] firm was paying to ship my stuff to Brussels. Unfortunately, since most of it wouldn’t fit into a European-sized apartment, I had to get rid of half my belongings.
  2. Make flight arrangements for arrival in Brussels: Prior to actually moving there I had to make a trip over to find an apartment.
  3. Set up European bank account: So I can do direct deposit and automatic bank transfers. Interestingly, my rent and utilities were included in those automatic payments. I rarely saw actual cash. Money went in and out of my accounts for major recurring income and bills, and my debit card was used for nearly everything else. I also had to keep my US account open and work out logistics of accepting rent/paying mortgage, etc. (I rented my house out to tenants while I was away).
  4. Provide information for my work permit, including:
    a) Medical certificate (filled out by a doctor and officially notarized by the Belgian Embassy):  I’m not sure why the Belgian Embassy had to stamp my form since they didn’t actually check to make sure the doctor wasn’t lying.
    b) Copy of all pages of passport: Not just the name and address page, but every page. Is someone really going to look at all of the stamps from places I’ve been? Not that it mattered because many of the visa stamps are already unreadable on the page, so photocopy just made everything completely illegible.
    c) Copy of diploma(s): Which degrees wasn’t specified, so I assumed it meant high school, BA, MS, and PhD to date. I guess this was to verify that I was qualified to work for the company that I’m already working for. [As it turned out, it also was to get some sort of special tax status for highly skilled workers, much like the H-1B visas in the US.]
    d) Copy of resume: Ditto verification…come on people, my firm was already paying me to work for them and all I’m doing is transferring between offices. I was pretty sure they checked my credentials. In any case, my then-26 page CV went on record.
    e) Nationwide criminal history record (FBI Identification Record): This was the real kicker. I can understand (sort of) that the Belgians don’t want some criminal moving there, though it seems to me that since the law firm I worked for didn’t have any concerns than it should be good enough for them. The real problem here is that it supposedly takes 16-18 WEEKS for the FBI to run a background check on me, and only after I provide them with my original fingerprints. Well, first off, where do I get my fingerprints taken? Can I walk into a police station, say something like “Book ‘im Dano” and they take a full set for me? Second, if it takes 16-18 weeks for them to do a background check on me (who was born and raised and lived all but 3 months of my life here in the US), what does this say about the FBI’s ability to do background checks for potential terrorists or even for people buying handguns? In any case, they got it done in exactly 17 weeks.

So if you’re planning to work overseas, plan well ahead of time. Other countries and continents may be different, but I doubt you’ll get into China, for example, faster than into Belgium, home of the EU and friend to the USA (well, at that time, at least; no guarantees about the current “friendship” situation).

I’ll have more on the “If it’s Tuesday, This Must be Belgium” series, including tons of traveling to other European countries during my stay.

David J. Kent is the author of Tesla: The Wizard of Electricity (2013) and Edison: The Inventor of the Modern World (2016) (both Fall River Press). He has also written two e-books: Nikola Tesla: Renewable Energy Ahead of Its Time and Abraham Lincoln and Nikola Tesla: Connected by Fate. His next book, Lincoln: The Man Who Saved America, is scheduled for release in summer 2017.

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Remembering Abraham Lincoln’s First Inaugural Address

George Buss as Abraham LincolnAbraham Lincoln was sworn in as the 16th President of the United States during a time of great upheaval. His first inaugural address was long (his second would be much shorter) and delved into the crisis that was causing the nation to split.

One section of our country believes slavery is right, and ought to be extended, while the other believes it is wrong, and ought not to be extended. This is the only substantial dispute.

On Wednesday, July 18, 2017, members of the Lincoln Group of DC experienced the entire Lincoln first inaugural address in person, as performed by George Buss (the same Lincoln who now performs the Gettysburg Address each year in November). The event was co-sponsored by the Lincoln Group of DC, the Hill Center at the Old Naval Hospital, the Lincoln Cottage, and the Abraham Lincoln Association. I took the following video of the peroration:

In your hands, my dissatisfied fellow-countrymen, and not in mine, is the momentous issue of civil war.

One can only hope:

I am loath to close. We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battle-field and patriot grave to every living heart and hearthstone all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.

Below are a small selection of photos from the event. All photos (including the thumbnail at the top) are copyright Bruce Guthrie, a fantastic photographer who graciously offers his time and skills to chronicle Abraham Lincoln and other events.

To learn more about the Lincoln Group of DC, check out our website.

David J. Kent is the author of Tesla: The Wizard of Electricity (2013) and Edison: The Inventor of the Modern World (2016) (both Fall River Press). He has also written two e-books: Nikola Tesla: Renewable Energy Ahead of Its Time and Abraham Lincoln and Nikola Tesla: Connected by Fate. His next book, Lincoln: The Man Who Saved America, is scheduled for release in summer 2017.

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Remembering Abraham Lincoln at the Hill Center, Old Navy Hospital

On January 18, 2017, in celebration of the Old Naval Hospital’s 150th anniversary, Hill Center and the Lincoln Group of the District of Columbia will hold a celebration of Abraham Lincoln’s First Inaugural Address.  In 1864 President Lincoln authorized $25,000 for construction of the (Old) Naval Hospital, which was completed in 1866, and the building has been restored to its 1860s condition to serve as Hill Center.
You can join us by signing up here: http://hillcenterdc.org/home/programs/3039.  You can also pay at the door.
The program will recall how Abraham Lincoln faced the gravest challenge that ever confronted a new president. The program will include delivery of the First Inaugural Address and a panel discussion about its context and significance. Michelle Krowl, president of the Abraham Lincoln Institute and a Lincoln specialist at the Library of Congress, will moderate the discussion. Panelists will include Lincoln scholar John Elliff, president of the Lincoln Group of DC and former associate professor at Brandeis University, and Michael F. Bishop, Director of the National Churchill Library and Center at George Washington University and former executive director of the Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission.  Other co-sponsors are President Lincoln’s Cottage at the Armed Forces Retirement Home in Washington, DC and the Abraham Lincoln Association headquartered in Springfield, Illinois.
The Inaugural Address will be delivered by George Buss of Freeport, Illinois, a professional educator who has performed as President Lincoln widely in Illinois and other states. He delivers the Gettysburg Address at the annual November commemoration at the Gettysburg Cemetery. Mr. Buss portrayed President Lincoln skillfully at a mock press conference hosted by the Capitol Historical Society in 2015 where he took questions from members of the National Press Club.  Mr. Buss is admired for the depth of his knowledge of Lincoln and his ability to represent Lincoln’s principles and historical perspective in both formal and informal settings.
The following organizations are co-sponsors of this event:
The reception with light hors d’oeuvres will begin at 6:30 p.m. in the John Phillip Sousa Hall, and the program will follow in the Abraham Lincoln Hall at 7:00 p.m. Sign up here, or just show up and pay at the door.

David J. Kent is the author of Tesla: The Wizard of Electricity (2013) and Edison: The Inventor of the Modern World (2016) (both Fall River Press). He has also written two e-books: Nikola Tesla: Renewable Energy Ahead of Its Time and Abraham Lincoln and Nikola Tesla: Connected by Fate. His next book is on Abraham Lincoln, due out in 2017.

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2017 Travel Preview

The thing about traveling is that travel plans change. They changed a lot last year, with anticipated trips to Machu Picchu, China, and Michigan being bumped. Now here we are a third of the way through January 2017 and travel plans are nearly non-existent, in part because of the lingering uncertainties from 2016.

Two trips are /more-or-less committed, if not actually planned. October should bring us to Australia/New Zealand in a tour being arranged by Sherry Kumar (who organized the Serbia/Montenegro/Croatia trip where we got to meet Tesla royalty). We are thinking of going a week early so we can drive down to the 12 Apostles and side-trip to Uluru (aka, Ayer’s Rock). More imminent is a trip to China this spring to replace the visit postponed from last fall. The (albeit, still incredibly tentative) plan is to see South Korea either on the way there or back.

Beyond that plans are still in the “thinking about” stage. They include the twice bumped Machu Picchu, but that seems unlikely this year given time constraints. This month I will participate in a special Abraham Lincoln event at the Hill Center. At some point I’ll start making “day” trips to Lincoln-related sites such as the USS Monitor Center at Marine Mariner’s Park in Newport News, Virginia (where the Monitor ironclad is displayed and preserved); the Tredegar Iron Works site near Richmond; and the National Museum of Civil War Medicine in Frederick, Maryland. I’ll also need to visit the confederate submarine Hunley and Fort Sumter in Charleston, South Carolina as I continue research for my upcoming Lincoln book.

Other possible trips include a Michigan writer’s retreat, Mt. Rushmore, a 4th of July road trip to New England, and maybe, just maybe, Cuba. I’ll definitely be going to Gettysburg in November for the annual Lincoln Forum.

Of course, I’m always open to last minute changes, so feel free to provide suggestions (and plane tickets).

Meanwhile, my Lincoln: The Man Who Save America book is in the final stages of design before going to the printer for a July 2017 release. I’m back working on my other Abraham Lincoln book, which hopefully will see the light of day in 2018. Oh, and I’m working on another Lincoln-related project that I hope to announce soon. Stay tuned!

David J. Kent is the author of Tesla: The Wizard of Electricity (2013) and Edison: The Inventor of the Modern World (2016) (both Fall River Press). He has also written two e-books: Nikola Tesla: Renewable Energy Ahead of Its Time and Abraham Lincoln and Nikola Tesla: Connected by Fate. His next book is on Abraham Lincoln, due out in 2017.

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[Photo credit: David J. Kent, Erfurt, Germany, 2008]

 

New Study Confirms Climate is Warming, Pause Never Happened

NOAA buoy“Warming of the climate system is unequivocal.” This was the conclusion of the most recent IPCC 5th Assessment Report (AR5). Also, human activity has been “the dominant cause of the observed warming since the mid-20th century.” There has been no pause.

The climate is warming and we are the dominant cause, primarily through activities such as the burning of fossil fuels and deforestation that emit huge amounts of CO2 into the atmosphere and oceans. The data are clear on this conclusion.

So why do politicians (universally, Republican politicians) claim the climate has not warmed? The facts prove them wrong. Unequivocally. Undeniably. The year 2016 just set the new record for warmest year, surpassing the previous record year of 2015 (which surpassed the previous record year of 2014). All of the hottest years have been recent years (aka, since the date lobbyists like to claim started a period of “no warming”). How someone can argue the climate isn’t warming when we keep setting climate heat records is a big question, one whose answer is obvious.

In any case, climate deniers desperately need the “pause” talking point, no matter how unsupportable the notion. In 2015, a scientific study was published that put the rest the false idea of a pause. Led by NOAA scientist Thomas Karl (and co-authored by nine other scientists), the study showed that any slowing was an artifact of changes in measurement methods and not a reflection of actually decreases in the rate of warming.

Republican lawmakers reacted to the Karl study by attacking the authors. Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) and House Representative Lamar Smith (R-TX) and other similarly fossil fuel-dependent politicians began harassment campaigns against the scientists involved, supported with talking points written by fossil fuel and libertarian lobbying groups/campaign contributors.

And now a new scientific study by a completely independent group of scientists has confirmed what the earlier study had effectively demonstrated – there was no pause, and the earlier scientists were correct in their analysis. The new study just published in Science Advances by UC-Berkeley researcher Zeke Hausfather confirms that the Karl analysis was correct. Further, Hausfather and his co-authors demonstrate that other researchers should reassess their own data sets accordingly.

Which gets us back to the pause that was not a pause. This talking point was invented by the denier lobbying industry through several steps of cherry picking. First, they chose 1998 as the starting date because it was a year of a huge spike in temperatures due to the strongest El Nino event in recent history. That artificially high spike was, not surprisingly, followed by “normal” high temperatures that appeared less because of the selected starting point. Shifting the start date one year forward or back eliminated the faux pause effect. Second, they use only a single satellite data set, the only one that gave them a trend that they could misuse to show their preferred narrative. The fact that the data set and investigators are highly adjusted and uncertain (and, arguably, irrelevant) may also explain the sometimes questionable choices made in its interpretation. Third, they choose to ignore all the surface level temperature data sets that inconveniently for them refute their conclusions.

In addition, there is the fact that there are long-term trends, and there are short-term variations in those trends. We had several years of events that tend to slow warming (e.g., La Nina) with fewer events that increase warming. In the last few years we’ve seen more “speed up” events (El Nino), which has helped the records set in 2014, 2015, and 2016 spike even warmer (i.e., they would have have been warmer even without the El Nino, but the El Nino pushed the spikes even higher, just as they did in the 1998 event that deniers like to cherry pick to start their “it hasn’t warmed” falsehood.

So there was no pause. The newest data confirm what we already new. The climate system is warming. Unequivocally. Undeniably. As John Abraham notes in his Guardian article:

Finally, and for those who read my posts regularly, I am sounding like a broken record. Global warming is happening, it never stopped, it never paused, and the models have gotten it right.

As he notes, and has been offered repeatedly on this page, humans are warming the climate. As with all other previous problems identified, it’s time to take responsibility and do something about it.

[Cross-posted from The Dake Page]

David J. Kent is the author of Tesla: The Wizard of Electricity (2013) and Edison: The Inventor of the Modern World (2016) (both Fall River Press). He has also written two e-books: Nikola Tesla: Renewable Energy Ahead of Its Time and Abraham Lincoln and Nikola Tesla: Connected by Fate. His next book is on Abraham Lincoln, due out in 2017.

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Reading Time – 2016

library booksI write a lot. But I also read a lot, which all the writing books says is required to be a good writer (and I concur). My book counts have slowly been creeping up, from 84 in 2014 to 96 last year and now to 106 in 2016.

I also wrote a book. Lincoln: The Man Who Saved America is scheduled for release in July 2017.

The breakdown of books read follows my usual pattern. As always, I read a lot about Abraham Lincoln – 26 books this year (last year it was 29). Some were newer books, e.g., Sidney Blumenthal’s A Self-Made Man: The Political Life of Abraham Lincoln, 1809-1854 (2016), which is the first of four planned volumes (the second is due out spring 2017). Some were older books, e.g. Lincoln in the Telegraph Office by David Homer Bates (1907). One was a monster: Abraham Lincoln: A Life, Volume 1. [The first of two 1000-page books author Michael Burlingame calls his “Green Monster,” both a reflection of the two massive green-covered volumes and the left field wall in Fenway Park they resemble.]

Other Lincoln books run from the quirky (Abe and Fido, about Lincoln’s dog) to the lawyerly (An Honest Calling) to the dangerous (Villainous Compounds, about chemical weapons in the Civil War).

I have a habit of reading mostly non-fiction, and indeed 72 of the 106 books fell into that broad category. But I also continued picking away at a “100 Books to Read Before You Die” list, all of which are fiction. This year I read another 16 off that list, which gets me to a total of 87. I will try to read 12 of the remaining 13 this year. Why not the 13th? Because it is Marcel Proust’s À la recherche du temps perdu (A Remembrance of Things Past; also known as In Search of Lost Time), which like it’s ungainly title weighs in at a hefty 4211 pages. I’ll likely save one that for next year.

That’s a decision for later. In 2016 the books on that list ranged from classics like The Ambassadors by Henry James to the magic mystery of Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafron to the chemically-induced On the Road by Jack Kerouac to the heavy Beloved by Toni Morrison.

Other books include a wide variety of classic and modern fiction plus a range of science, writing, and biographical non-fiction. The only thing missing (as usual) was poetry, which for some reason scares me. Which sounds like a challenge if I ever heard one.

One of the non-fiction books that fits in science and biography was one that I wrote: Edison: The Inventor of the Modern World came out in summer of 2016. Even though I wrote it, I don’t count it as read until the final hardcover book hits the stories (and after I’ve read it at least once or four times).

My reading goal on Goodreads for 2016 was originally set at 50 but I knew that would be adjusted, which I did in May, pushing it up to 75. For 2017 I’ve set the initial goal at 75 but expect to approach 100 again. The determining factors will be how much time I spend writing books this year, along with the length of books read. In 2016 my average book length was 324 pages. I also take a lot of notes on all the Lincoln books read, both for my book review column in The Lincolnian and as research for the Lincoln book I’m writing. That keeps the overall number of books read lower.

I’m not sure if it’s viewable by anyone but me, but here is a link to my official Year in Books on Goodreads. If that doesn’t work, try my Challenge Page.

So far I have finished 0 books in 2017. Time to catch up.

[NOTE: The above is cross-posted from my creative writing/memoir blog, Hot White Snow]

David J. Kent is the author of Tesla: The Wizard of Electricity (2013) and Edison: The Inventor of the Modern World (2016) (both Fall River Press). He has also written two e-books: Nikola Tesla: Renewable Energy Ahead of Its Time and Abraham Lincoln and Nikola Tesla: Connected by Fate. His next book is on Abraham Lincoln, due out in 2017.

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