Catch Me on C-SPAN

I’m on C-SPAN!

The presentation I gave on December 12, 2017 was recorded by C-SPAN and has now been broadcast. You can catch the replay broadcast this coming Sunday, or better yet, check out the link below to watch the entire program now. Click on the photo or the URL below the photo to watch.

David J Kent on C-SPANwww.c-span.org/video/?438457-1/abraham-lincoln

John Elliff, President of the Lincoln Group of DC, introduced the speakers. My presentation is first (~15 minutes), followed by presentations by Elizabeth Smith Brownstein and Carl Adams. Don’t miss the Q&A after all three of us have spoken. I especially liked the comments of one gentleman in the Q&A who says some truly wonderful things about my book, Lincoln: The Man Who Saved America.

By the way, Lincoln: The Man Who Saved America has already been scheduled for a 2nd printing in May! The public and scholarly reception has been heartwarming.

So check out the video and let me know what you think of the presentations.

https://www.c-span.org/video/?438457-1/abraham-lincoln

David J. Kent is an avid science traveler and the author of Lincoln: The Man Who Saved America, now available. His previous books include Tesla: The Wizard of Electricity and Edison: The Inventor of the Modern World (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.

Check out my Goodreads author page. While you’re at it, “Like” my Facebook author page for more updates!

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January 16th – Join Lincoln Group of DC for Historian’s Panel

LGDC banner

The Lincoln Group of DC is sponsoring a historian’s panel and dinner on Tuesday, January 16th. Join us for a great meal and presentation of ongoing research.

To register: http://www.lincolngroup.org/jan2018.html

The Lincoln Group of DC has been a venue for the study and engagement of Abraham Lincoln since 1935. Join us on January 16th at Maggiano’s-Chevy Chase Restaurant from 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm. I’ve been privileged to be a member of the Lincoln Group for many years and these events are not to be missed.

Historian’s Panel: Researching Lincoln—Mind, Body, and Soul

Panelists include John O’Brien, Dr. Jon Willen, Richard Margolies, and Karen Needles.

John O’Brien’s research has made him the leading expert on the life of Rev. Phineas Gurley, pastor of the New York Avenue Presbyterian Church (“Lincoln’s church”), and Rev. Gurley’s relationship with President Lincoln and his family.

Dr. Jon Willen is bringing his medical experience and expertise on Civil War medicine to his research on Dr. Charles Leale, the first physician to treat President Lincoln after he was shot in Ford’s Theatre.

Richard Margolies brings his expertise and experience as a clinical psychologist to the study of Lincoln’s personality and character.

Former LGDC president Karen Needles, is Director and founder of the Lincoln Archives Digital project, which was endorsed by the Lincoln Bicentennial Commission, in 2007. The goal is to digitize all federal records(executive, legislative, judicial, and military) created during Lincoln’s Presidential administration, making them available online, fully searchable.

Register on the LGDC website: http://www.lincolngroup.org/jan2018.html

David J. Kent is an avid science traveler and the author of Lincoln: The Man Who Saved America, now available. His previous books include Tesla: The Wizard of Electricity and Edison: The Inventor of the Modern World (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.

Check out my Goodreads author page. While you’re at it, “Like” my Facebook author page for more updates!

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Nikola Tesla Has Died – Nikola Tesla Lives On!

Nikola TeslaNikola Tesla passed away 75 years ago, on January 7, 1943.

As I noted in Tesla: The Wizard of Electricity:

Tesla died in a lonely two-room suite—Room 3327 on the thirty-third floor, appropriately divisible by three—at the Hotel New Yorker in midtown Manhattan, not far from Penn Station and Madison Square Garden. This was just a few months before the Supreme Court upheld his original patent and gave Tesla credit for invention of the radio. Unfortunately for Tesla, this was long after Marconi had received a Nobel Prize in 1909 on technological ideas “borrowed” from Tesla. While he had become a naturalized American citizen over a half-century earlier, Tesla’s cremated remains now rest in a spherical “Tesla ball”–shaped urn at the Nikola Tesla Museum in Belgrade.

I had the privilege of a private meeting with the Tesla museum director in Belgrade as they were reopening after a renovation in 2016. I’ve stayed in the room next to his at the New Yorker Hotel. I’ve watched Tesla come to off-Broadway.To be among the artifacts of the man is inspiring.

Tesla New Yorker

Tesla lives on in the 21st Century in the form of electric car companies, movies, computer simulations, videos, books, and television. His last laboratory, Wardenclyffe, is once again rising on Long Island to become a Tesla museum and science center (look for my brick!). More and more people are becoming aware of Tesla’s contributions to science and to modern America.

Nikola TeslaI’m happy to say that I’ve played a small role in bringing more recognition to the man. My book, Tesla: The Wizard of Electricity, has just gone into its 8th printing, meaning the number of books in print approaches 100,000. It has also been translated into at least four foreign languages, with more on the horizon.

Because of my book and others, many who had never heard of Tesla, the man (or confused him with Tesla, the car company), have discovered the unique brilliance and personality of a man once held in the highest esteem but for too long forgotten.

Nikola Tesla died 75 years ago, but he lives on today. Share the knowledge.

David J. Kent is an avid science traveler and the author of Lincoln: The Man Who Saved America, now available. His previous books include Tesla: The Wizard of Electricity and Edison: The Inventor of the Modern World (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.

Check out my Goodreads author page. While you’re at it, “Like” my Facebook author page for more updates!

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Join Me for My Ask Me Anything #AuthorsAMA

Ask Me Anything!Ask Me Anything at #AuthorsAMA!

Anything about Lincoln, Tesla, or Edison, that is, the topics of my three biographies.

On January 23rd at 8 pm I’ll be participating in an Ask Me Anything Q&A. At that time you can ask questions and get answers on any of my three books. Need question ideas?

Nikola Tesla was a brilliant but eccentric scientist. Thomas Edison was a chief rival and talented inventor in his own right. Abraham Lincoln saved America. Each is fascinating in their own way, and I’ve written highly illustrated biographies on all of them.Ask Me Anything about all three. Was Tesla really a genius? Did Edison steal all the inventions he got credit for? How on Earth did an poorly educated country lawyer save America?

But you don’t have to wait until the 23rd – you can ask your questions now! Just sign up on the AMA site and jot down your questions. I’ll be able to see them and respond in depth. Then on January 23rd the answers will go live and I’ll respond to additional questions as they come up. You can also “up vote” questions from others to give them higher priority in the Q&A period. [Better yet – get your friends to join in and convince them to “up vote” your question.

So join the page now and leave a question. Then come back on Tuesday, January 23rd at 8 pm for a rapid pace Q&A. Remember, you can ask me anything about Abraham Lincoln, Nikola Tesla, or Thomas Edison.

Join the site here.

David J. Kent is an avid science traveler and the author of Lincoln: The Man Who Saved America, now available. His previous books include Tesla: The Wizard of Electricity and Edison: The Inventor of the Modern World (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.

Check out my Goodreads author page. While you’re at it, “Like” my Facebook author page for more updates!

Follow me by subscribing by email on the home page. Share with your friends using the buttons below.

#AMA #AuthorsAMA

Reading R Us

library booksWhen I’m not writing, I’m reading (or traveling). In fact, reading seems to have become how I procrastinate writing, but that’s fodder for another post. For now, let’s talk about my reading.

In 2017 I read 116 books, ten more than the 106 of 2016, which was 10 more than the 96 of 2015. That streak will probably change next year, but for this year it meant a lot of time spent wrapped up in books, mostly real, physical, old-style books with a sprinkling of e-books.

As always, books about Abraham Lincoln dominate my reading list. This year I read 31 books on Lincoln, about 27% of my total. And one of them was the book I wrote called Lincoln: The Man Who Saved America. That book came out in late summer and has been selling well in Barnes and Noble stores nationwide.

Other Lincoln books included the second volume of Sidney Blumenthal’s political life of Lincoln called Wrestling With His Angel (see links for book reviews), which was just as good as the first volume that came out last year. Also among Lincoln books was Guy Fraker’s installment in the “Looking for Lincoln in Illinois” series, this one on Fraker’s area of expertise, Lincoln’s time on the 8th Judicial Circuit. I read two books on Lincoln’s interactions with photographer Alexander Gardner: Shooting Lincoln by Nicholas Pistor and The Photographer and the President by Richard S. Lowry. Though they largely covered the same topic, the two books are very different in their emphasis and style. I recommend reading both.  I read many more about Lincoln, both new books and classics.

The majority of books I read were non-fiction: 81 of the 116, about 70% of the total. In addition to Lincoln-related I read non-fiction books on writing (9), biography/memoir (10), travel (6), science (13), and miscellaneous other non-fiction (12). These included What Happened by Hillary Clinton, Thank You for Being Late by Thomas Friedman, Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates, The Best Travel Writing – 2010, and The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson. Included among the science books was If I Understood You, Would I Have This Look on My Face, a wonderful book on science communication by Alan Alda.

Fiction books included some Science Fiction/Fantasy like The Three Body Problem by Liu Cixin, Tesla’s Frequency by L. Woodswalker (a wonderful follow up to her earlier Tesla’s Signal), and Curse of the Jenri by real-life rocket scientist Stephanie Barr. I also read Kafka on the Shore, a metaphysical reality (aka, magical realism) book by famed author Haruki Murakami. “Normal” fiction included the surprisingly wonderful The Last Child by John Hart, Eucalyptus by Murray Bail (which I read while in Australia), The Chemist by Stephenie Meyer, and Thunderstruck by Erik Larson.

In an effort to diversify my reading I slogged through Walt Whitman’s saga of a poetry book, Leaves of Grass. I also read one pure humor book, which I found to be completely unfunny. Maybe I’ll read one of the books on Lincoln’s humor next time.

In all I read about 36,000 pages in 2017. I keep track of my reading on Goodreads, so feel free to check out my Goodreads author page where I also have links to my own books.

You can also join my Facebook author page for updates and links to interesting articles.

So how many books do I read in 2018?

[Continue reading about 2018 on Hot White Snow]

David J. Kent is an avid science traveler and the author of Lincoln: The Man Who Saved America, now available. His previous books include Tesla: The Wizard of Electricity and Edison: The Inventor of the Modern World (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.

Check out my Goodreads author page. While you’re at it, “Like” my Facebook author page for more updates!

Follow me by subscribing by email on the home page. Share with your friends using the buttons below.

[Daily Post]

 

The Year in a Writer’s Life – 2017

David J Kent, WriterThe writing life has kept me busy this past year. In fact, 2017 rivaled 2016 in productivity, especially given I took two long overseas trips (South Korea/China and Australia/New Zealand). [Did you know there are no monkeys in Australia?] In any case, these and past travels may end up in books some day. While traveling, I took advantage of long flights and sporadic internet access to get in some serious writing.

Last year I mentioned that, in addition to my Edison book hitting stores, I was working on a new book. Well, Lincoln: The Man Who Saved America came out in August and has been doing very well in Barnes and Noble stores nationwide. Reception from the public and other Lincoln scholars has been very positive and heartwarming, so I’ve been busy with book launch activities, including presentations at the DC Historical Society and the Lincoln Group of DC. [I’ve also just been voted onto the Board of Directors of the Abraham Lincoln Institute]

The writing continues. I have not one, but two, books in progress. One is an “accessible scholarly” book on Lincoln’s interest in technology; the other a travel memoir in the style of Bill Bryson, but with more science. And because that isn’t enough, in January I’ll be formally proposing a book in which members of the Lincoln Group of DC will contribute chapters. Stay tuned.

Book header new crop

My previous books are also doing well. My Edison book is now apparently sold out at Barnes and Noble so I’m expecting a new printing in early 2018 (as well as one for Lincoln). I’ve already seen a Dutch translation (and now German) of Edison and expect others shortly. Even better news – my Tesla book is now into its 8th printing! It too has a Dutch translation, as well as German, Spanish, and now Czech. There may be others, so if you see a translation not listed please post a picture on my Facebook author page.

But there’s more. I wrote hundreds of blog posts here on Science Traveler (my official author page) as well as Hot White Snow (creative writing) and The Dake Page (science communication). I was also asked by the Chesapeake and Potomac Regional Chapter of SETAC to contribute an article on science communication for their fall newsletter. And I continue to write two book reviews per issue for the Lincoln Group of DC’s quarterly, The Lincolnian.

Like all good writers, I read a lot. This year I have read 116 books, surpassing last year’s total of 106 (which surpassed the previous year’s 96). I confess that I may actually cut back slightly in 2018 as I’m anticipating a heavy travel and writing year. We’ll see.

My mantra for 2018 is to Write!, Write!, Write!

Which reminds me, I’m off to write.

David J. Kent is an avid science traveler and the author of Lincoln: The Man Who Saved America, now available. His previous books include Tesla: The Wizard of Electricity and Edison: The Inventor of the Modern World (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.

Check out my Goodreads author page. While you’re at it, “Like” my Facebook author page for more updates!

Follow me by subscribing by email on the home page. Share with your friends using the buttons below.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays from Science Traveler

Image

Merry Christmas Happy Holidays

David J. Kent is an avid science traveler and the author of Lincoln: The Man Who Saved America, now available. His previous books include Tesla: The Wizard of Electricity and Edison: The Inventor of the Modern World (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.

Check out my Goodreads author page. While you’re at it, “Like” my Facebook author page for more updates!

Follow me by subscribing by email on the home page. Share with your friends using the buttons below.

No Monkeys in Australia

There are no monkeys in Australia. None. I came to this realization as I was hiking through the Great Otway National Park in Victoria, along the Great Ocean Road. There were dozens of varieties of huge eucalyptus trees and prehistoric-looking cycads, perfect for frolicking monkeys. But not a monkey to be seen.

Koala (Not a monkey)

Koala (Not a monkey)

The continent has more than its fair share of marsupials, those pouch-bearing mammals that are iconic of Australia. There were bandicoots, bilblies, wombats, dozens of varieties of possum (including gliders), enough wallabies to start a circus (not to be confused with the flying Wallendas), and even Tasmania devils and marsupial moles. And let’s not forget the kangaroos in types ranging from rat to red, East and West grey, and antilopine (antelope-like). There are even a handful of tree kangaroos and the somewhat related monotremes that lay eggs (platypus and echidna).

Add to that the emus, cassowary, parrots, lorikeets, kookaburra, and a hefty variety of other odd-looking (and sounding) birds. Then there are the introduced species like rabbits (tons and tons of rabbits), sheep, cattle, deer, and flies. Especially flies.

But no monkeys.

About 260 species of monkeys inhabit the world. New world monkeys live in Central and South America; their prehensile tails and lack of cheek pouches being their most distinguishing features. Old world monkeys live in Asia and Africa. These lack the prehensile tails but have cheek pouches to store food. If you must get intimate with any particular monkey, feel free to check for rump pads and nostril presentation. Personally I’m sticking with the whether they have a tail or not.

Most monkeys are tropical, so the temperate rain forests of southern Australia would seem a good option. There are even cold-climate monkeys in northern Japan and the Himalayas, so there really is no excuse for their absence in Australia. Back in 1862, while the United States was distracted by the American Civil War, then Victoria Governor and patron of the sciences Sir Henry Barkly called for the introduction of monkeys into the colony’s forests “for the amusement of wayfarers, whom their gambols would delight.” Notwithstanding the obvious attraction of gamboling monkeys, Barkly was replaced as Governor before the idea caught on no monkeys were introduced.

By why aren’t they there naturally?

PangeaThe answer is a combination of timing and plate tectonics. At one time most of the continents were clumped together in what was called Pangea. But around 175 million years or so ago Pangea started to move apart. Given Australia’s position and movement away from the other land masses, and given that primates like monkeys are a relatively new evolutionary grouping (25 to 40 million years ago), there was no feasible way for monkeys (or monkey ancestors) to travel to the secluded island of Australia.

Ah, but you say there were land bridges during the ice ages. So true. And this is how Australian Aborigines probably reached the continent about 60,000 years ago. But other primates didn’t make it that far. Orangutans, for example, can be found in Indonesia and Malaysia, but never quite made it as far as Papua New Guinea, and definitely not to Australia.

Wallace Lines

Scientists have identified a series of “Wallace Lines” (named for Alfred Russel Wallace, who wrote a paper suggesting much the same thing about evolution as Darwin was about to publish). Because of the positioning of the tectonic plates (Australia and Asia are on different plates), there were natural breaks that made transport difficult. That’s why there are no monkeys in Australia, and also why there are no kangaroos or other marsupials in Asia (the one exception to both rules could be the Indonesian island of Sulawesi, which sits in between the two continents).

My hike through the Great Otway National Park continued sans monkeys, but the majesty of the mountain ash (a kind of eucalyptus) made up for it. I didn’t see any monkeys, but I did get to admire the koalas and kangaroos. And that is what Australia is all about.

David J. Kent is an avid science traveler and the author of Lincoln: The Man Who Saved America, now available. His previous books include Tesla: The Wizard of Electricity and Edison: The Inventor of the Modern World (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.

Check out my Goodreads author page. While you’re at it, “Like” my Facebook author page for more updates!

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[Daily Post]

The Year in Science Traveling – 2017

Sometimes Science Traveling takes me to distant lands and cultures, and sometimes it takes me closer to my own culture. This year was a little of both. I only took two major trips out of the country, but whoa, were they major. No more significant travel in the last twelve days of 2017, so here’s a recap.

First, the big trips.

Seoul, South Korea

In May I flew to South Korea. Mostly there weren’t any missiles flying while I was on the ground (there were just before and after), so I was able to move around without much difficulty. After landing in Seoul I immediately hopped a train to Busan on the southeast coast. After a few days there I headed back to Seoul and even took a day trip up into the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ). An interesting experience to say the least. Even Seoul offered some excitement as I was there on election day; they were voting to replace the president who had been impeached (and who days before had been arrested for corruption). And yes, I took notes.

Nine Dragon Wall, Beijing, China

From South Korea I flew to Beijing. I’ve been there a couple of times before so had already seen the usual tourist traps. This time the temperature hit 100 degrees F to offset the first time I was there when it was -5 F. I checked out some local areas and visited the Bell and Drum Towers. Vladimir Putin and about 30 other world leaders were in town for a One Belt, One Road Summit, so the air was bright and clear (they close down the factories and ban cars). On the flip side, the Forbidden City was closed for a private tour of all the first ladies and every version of military uniform possible was parading the streets.

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The next big trip was in October to Australia and New Zealand. First to Sydney (the famous bridge, the even more famous Opera House, and the at least locally famous Bondi Beach), then up to Cairns (Great Barrier Reef), then to Queenstown, New Zealand (fjord cruising), then back to Australia for Melbourne (12 Apostles), and finally up to Uluru (Ayer’s Rock). Day trips included hiking the Blue Mountains, checking out three different aquariums, and chasing the Lord of the Rings through the mountains of New Zealand. A trip of a lifetime.

Mt. Rushmore

The rest of the year was spent on less adventurous trips. I attended the annual CPRC meeting in Annapolis (where I also went kayaking on a separate trip), the Lincoln Forum in Gettysburg, and then two trips up to Massachusetts (July and November). I also got to hang out with Abraham Lincoln (George Buss) and Teddy Roosevelt (Joe Wiegand). In fact, both men twice. In February they were joined by actors playing George Washington and Thomas Jefferson for a “Mt. Rushmore” night at the National Archives. Joe reprised his role for the Lincoln Group of DC in October with a tribute to Abraham Lincoln; George played Lincoln at the Gettysburg cemetery commemoration in November.

Overall there were fewer trips this year, but to farther places. I only managed to get to three new countries, which brings the total to something like 45 depending on how you count. If things work out the way I’m anticipating, next year could add up to eight, or even more, new countries visited. Now how do I get to Antarctica? Stay tuned.

David J. Kent is an avid science traveler and the author of Lincoln: The Man Who Saved America, now available. His previous books include Tesla: The Wizard of Electricity and Edison: The Inventor of the Modern World (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.

Check out my Goodreads author page. While you’re at it, “Like” my Facebook author page for more updates!

Follow me by subscribing by email on the home page. Share with your friends using the buttons below.