About David J. Kent

I have been a scientist for the last 30 years. First as a marine biologist (yep, even met Jacques Cousteau's son Jean-Michel once), then as an actual paid scientist for a series of consulting firms. During this time paying the bills I've also done a fair amount of traveling. I've lived in a few different countries, with the most recent being three years living in Brussels. Since I was very young I've had this thing about Abraham Lincoln and now own well over 600 books (i.e., titles...some of the titles are multiple volumes to the actual number of physical books straining my bookshelves is closer to 1000). I also like to visit aquariums, which is probably a psychological throwback to my marine biology days. In any case, I've seen dozens all around the world. I also like to write. I've written/edited/published several newsletters, contributed to many others, have a dozen or so peer-reviewed papers and a book chapter (or two if you count the second edition), and scads of other miscellaneous writing. [Note: "scads" is a technical writing term for, well, scads.] My latest endeavors are books - I have the one contract to write a book on Tesla and expect another for one on Lincoln. I hope you'll find this web site entertaining, and once I get all the features working, informative. I write about all the things I've mentioned above - Tesla, Lincoln, aquariums, and a whole lot about travel. If you have any requests, be sure to let me know.

Abraham Lincoln Debates Stephen A. Douglas AND Frederick Douglass

Last week was a busy week for Abraham Lincoln activities and the fun continues this week. I’m looking forward to Thursday, February 22nd at the National Archives for a once-in-a-lifetime meeting of Abraham Lincoln, Stephen A. Douglas, and Frederick Douglass. And if seeing these three men in person wasn’t enough, it’s a free event!

The Lincoln-Douglas(s) Debates: Known and Unknown

Date: Thursday, February 22, 2018
Time: 7:00 pm
Location: William G. McGowan Theater, Washington, DC

Join us for an unusual and lively performance featuring Abraham Lincoln (portrayed by George Buss) and political opponent Stephen A. Douglas (portrayed by Tim Connors) as they look back to their famous debates over slavery and equality in the 1858 U.S. Senate campaign in Illinois. Following the first debate, we will present the “Unknown Lincoln-Douglass,” an “imagining” of a debate between Lincoln (portrayed by George Buss) and Frederick Douglass (portrayed by Phil Darius Wallace). Though they met at the White House several times, Abraham Lincoln and African-American leader Frederick Douglass never publicly argued the crucial issues of slavery, freedom, and racial justice. This is the Lincoln-Douglass debate that never happened—using words from their actual correspondence and commentary. Historian Harold Holzer will moderate and bring Lincoln and Douglass face-to-face for an unprecedented confrontation.

More information and how to register in advance: http://www.lincolngroup.org/feb2018b.html

This event will only happen once. Do not miss it!

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.

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Nikola Tesla Believed Fossil Fuels Were “Barbarous”

“It is quite evident, though, that this squandering cannot go on indefinitely, for geological investigations prove our fuel stores to be limited. So great has been the drain on them of late years that the specter of exhaustion is looming up threateningly in the distance…”
– Nikola Tesla

Nikola TeslaNikola Tesla believed that the thermo-dynamic process, i.e., the burning of fossil fuels, was “wasteful and barbarous.” In particular he singled out coal; at the time in greater use than natural gas and oil, which were slightly less dirty but rapidly extending in use. Despite these warnings from Tesla, we would all grow to become dependent, some would even say addicted, to these fossil fuels as taxpayer subsidies and government investment in national infrastructure would help make them cheap and accessible. Renewables like wind and solar, of course, did not enjoy government subsidies at that time, and were thus severely disadvantaged.

The mining of coal was especially problematic, Tesla noted, because despite some modern improvement, it still involved significant “dangers to the unfortunates who are condemned to toil deep in the bowels of the earth.” While oil and natural gas were somewhat safer in this regard, (drilling to depth avoided sending people underground), these sources still presented the problem of being finite. Tesla understood that fossil-based resources would eventually run out. And before that would happen, we would reach some level at which the costs of extraction would exceed the revenues that could be earned, making it economically unfeasible.

To this reality we can add the costs that are not accurately captured. Many of these additional costs have been “externalized,” i.e., shifted from the companies that are extracting fossil fuels onto the greater shoulders of society. This includes costs of pollution, particulates and aerosols released to the air, frequent oil spills, catastrophic ecological damage from mountaintop mining, and the rising costs of fossil fuel-related public health and safety concerns. Now that we fully understand the cause of man-made climate change, the trillions of dollars in costs associated with global warming caused by the burning of fossil fuels can be added to the total. Even if we ignore these societal costs, the fossil fuel industry receives tremendous levels of taxpayer subsidy in order to artificially create an “economically feasible” industry. If these externalized costs were factored into an honest free market, the lack of economic viability of the continued use of fossil fuels for energy would become as clear now as it was to Tesla.

Another cost often ignored is national security. The Middle East, Russia, Venezuela, and other hotbeds of discord all represent globally important sources of fossil fuels, especially oil and natural gas. As one Tesla researcher noted in an apt analogy given Tesla’s interest in pigeons, “if you put all the bird food in one place the birds fight each other for it; if you spread it out for all to eat there is no fighting.” The limited and clustered sources of fossil fuel resources certainly suggest a similar result.

While others at the turn of the twentieth century were busy exploiting coal, iron, aluminum, and drilling for oil, Tesla was already recognizing the limits of those endeavors. Rather than consume resources that were both dirty and finite, Tesla believed we needed to think about conservation. “Whatever our resources of primary energy may be in the future,” Tesla wrote, “we must, to be rational, obtain it without consumption of any material.” He believed that natural, renewable, sources of energy could “eliminate the need of coal, oil, gas or any other of the common fuels.”

[The above is adapted from my e-book, Nikola Tesla: Renewable Energy Ahead of Its Time, available for immediate download on Amazon]

David J. Kent is the author of Tesla: The Wizard of Electricity and two e-books: Nikola Tesla: Renewable Energy Ahead of Its Time and Abraham Lincoln and Nikola Tesla: Connected by Fate. He is also the author of Lincoln: The Man Who Saved America and Edison: The Inventor of the Modern World (both Fall River Press).

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Happy Birthday Abraham Lincoln (and Charles Darwin)

February 12th is always a good day because it blends my two careers – Abraham Lincoln and Charles Darwin were born on the same day in 1809. Both changed the world in remarkable ways. So Happy Birthday to Abraham Lincoln and Charles Darwin.

Lincoln Memorial Wreath Laying

It will be a busy week.  For the third year in a row I’ll be laying the wreath at the foot of the statue in the Lincoln Memorial for the Lincoln Group of DC, joined by Wendy Swanson. If you’re in Washington DC Monday at noon, stop by the Lincoln Memorial. Here is video from last year’s wreath laying.

On Tuesday night I’ll be attending a joint meeting of the Lincoln Group of DC and the Civil War Round Table of DC. Our speaker, which I’m happy to say I arranged, is Sidney Blumenthal, famous politico and author of two great books on Abraham Lincoln (with two more volumes in the works).

Saturday will take me to Ford’s Theatre for the monthly Lincoln Group of DC Book Discussion Group. We’ll finish up our current book (James McPherson’s Lincoln and the Second American Revolution) and choose the next book to read. This is a great time to join us so check out the web page link. From that group I’ll join others in an intensive meeting in which we’ll inventory Lincoln-related items we’ll auction off in April.

George Buss Abraham LincolnIt doesn’t stop there. Next week (February 22nd, 7 pm) I’ll be at the National Archives for the Lincoln-Douglas-Douglass Debates. In this very special presentation we’ll have Lincoln interpreter George Buss recreating his famous debates with Stephen A. Douglas (portrayed by Tim Connors). After a short break, Lincoln will return to have a discussion with Frederick Douglass (portrayed by Phil Darius Wallace) using a script written by world famous Lincoln scholar Harold Holzer. Harold will moderate the debates. This is a once in a lifetime event that cannot be missed. [And it’s free] Check out more info at the National Archives.

And that’s just the next two weeks following on recent events that included Part 1 of 3 as the featured book discussion on the Railsplitter podcast, a successful Ask Me Anything online Q&A, and C-SPAN coverage of my presentation on Lincoln: The Man Who Saved America.

It doesn’t stop there. I’m planning several Lincoln events for March, including joining the Board of the Abraham Lincoln Institute, attending the annual ALI Symposium, taking a trip to Newport News to view the ironclad Monitor, starting the new book in our monthly book discussion group, touring the Gettysburg Battlefield, and then the beginning of the first segment of my “Chasing Abraham Lincoln” road trip. Stay tuned.

Happy Birthday, Abraham Lincoln! And Happy Birthday, Charles Darwin!

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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Listen to Lincoln: The Man Who Saved America on the Railsplitter Podcast

Lincoln: The Man Who Saved AmericaLincoln: The Man Who Saved America has enjoyed great success and will have a second edition in the spring. The book has been featured in several media outlets: the latest being the Railsplitter podcast.

The Railsplitter is a popular podcast in the Abraham Lincoln world. The three hosts post a weekly audio discussion on a variety of topics related to “learning about, and having fun with #16.” For the podcast posted on their website on February 8, 2018 they discussed Chapters 1 to 4 of Lincoln: The Man Who Saved America. You can listen to the podcast here (discussion of the book gets rolling at about the 10 minute mark):

Railsplitter podcast logo#36 Railsplitter Book Club: Lincoln: The Man Who Saved America Part 1

I was happy to hear that they had visited my own website and watched the C-SPAN video of my recent presentation to the Lincoln Group of DC. The hosts mentioned that the video helped them understand the intended audience for the book, and all agreed that the book did a great reaching out to them.

For those who haven’t seen the C-SPAN video, you can watch that here:

David J Kent on C-SPANAsk Me Anything!And in case you missed my recent #Ask Me Anything, you can read the questions and answers from that event as well.

The Railsplitter podcast on February 8th covered Chapters 1 through 4. They will have two more installments to cover Chapters 5 though 8 and then Chapters 9 and 10 and end material. Check out the Railsplitter podcast web page and twitter feed for more information and schedule. You can also follow my Facebook author page and Twitter feed for updates.

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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The Fascinating Mangrove Salt Marsh Snakes of Sanibel

Among the many amazing animals I saw on a recent visit to the Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge on Sanibel Island (Fort Myers, Florida) was a beautifully red mangrove salt marsh snake. When I came across it, this one had grabbed a bewildered fish in its mouth and was working on turning it around to swallow.

Mangrove Marsh Snake

After a few minutes the snake did just that, gulping it down live. The gathering crowd was both fascinated and a little grossed out, though there seemed to be an even split between those rooting for the fish and the snake.

What is even more fascinating about the mangrove salt marsh snake – its scientific name is Nerodia clarkii compressicauda – is that while it lives in the roots of red mangroves in an estuarine environment, it doesn’t have any particular adaptations to living in sea water. Most aquatic snakes live in freshwater. There are fully marine sea snakes, but they live entirely in the ocean and are adapted to the salt water; in particular they have large organs designed specifically to excrete salt, which allows sea snakes to drink seawater.

Mangrove salt marsh snakes have no such organ so cannot drink seawater. Instead they get most of their fresh water intake from their food (like the poor fish above) and by drinking freshwater from temporary puddles that form in the sand or pockets of roots after rainstorms. Calling them aquatic is a bit of a misnomer: perhaps semi-aquatic is more accurate. But they also can be considered semi-arboreal in the sense that they spend much of their time on the proproots of red mangroves (Rhizophora mangle, which a particular favorite of mine because I had studied many years ago in Bermuda). Indeed, the one I saw was slithering around the shallows and over the prop roots with the fish in its mouth looking for a good place to eat. These snakes aren’t great swimmers so they hang out in shallow pools as the tide retreats and snap up trapped fish.

Another fascinating aspect of mangrove marsh snakes is their coloring. The one I saw was brilliant red but they can also appear as rather grayish with darker splotches and bands. Even odder, any given litter of mangrove marsh snakes could contain a mix of both colors; live-bearers, a litter could have up to 22 individuals. The gray phase allows them to hide in the leaf litter of mangrove trees while the red phase provides great camouflage for snakes resting on mangrove branches and prop roots.

The red phase I saw now rested after gorging down its meal, so I moved on to check out the rest of the mangrove trail. Along the way I saw another unique denison of the mangroves – a mangrove tree crab, most likely Aratus pisonii – clinging to a tree about 15 feet above the ground.

Mangrove Tree Crab

I saw a lot more both in the mangrove trail and the rest of the Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge, but this snake having lunch was one of the most fascinating, and quite a thrill to capture on video.

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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Hitting all the careers!

It seems I’ve done a little of everything, and now I’m hitting all the careers at once (except the building bug zappers one).

In my marine biology days I had heard about Mote Marine Lab but had never been there. I also got to see my 49th aquarium. Here is an Australian jellyfish that I didn’t see in Australia.

A tarpon like the ones I saw in Bermuda.

One of many gorgeous reef fish.

At Mote Marine Lab Aquarium.

I also got to see the Addison-Ford Estates and several of Edison’s movie projectors in honor of my book on Thomas Edison.

His botanical Lab where he looked for a domestic source of rubber in his 80s.

Very cool place.

Meanwhile, my Tesla book is back in Barnes and Noble stores with its 8th printing.

And my Lincoln book is coming out soon with a 2nd printing.

Lincoln always watches over me.

More shortly.

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.

Ask Me Anything #AuthorsAMA Tuesday Night 8 pm

Ask Me Anything!Ask Me Anything at #AuthorsAMA!

Join me tomorrow night, Tuesday, January 23rd at 8 pm for an Ask Me Anything Q&A. At that time you can ask questions and get answers on  Abraham Lincoln, Nikola Tesla, or Thomas Edison, the topics of my three biographies.

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.

And if you missed me on C-SPAN, you can find the link 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!

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#AMA #AuthorsAMA

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 (at about 1:08:10) 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!

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