The Forgotten Genius of Oliver Heaviside: A Maverick of Electrical Science
FINALIST! 2019 IEEE William and Joyce Middleton Electrical Engineering History AwardThis biography of Oliver Heaviside profiles the life of an underappreciated genius and describes his many contributions to electrical science, which proved to be essential to the future of mass communications. Oliver Heaviside (1850 -1925) may not be a household name but he was one of the great pioneers of electrical science: his work led to huge advances in communications and became the bedrock of the subject of electrical engineering as it is taught and practiced today. His ideas and original accomplishments are now so much a part of everyday electrical science that they are simply taken for granted; almost nobody wonders how they came about and Heaviside's name has been lost from view.This book tells the complete story of this extraordinary though often unappreciated scientist. The author interweaves details of Heaviside's life and personality with clear explanations of his many important contributions to the field of electrical engineering. He describes a man with an irreverent sense of fun who cared nothing for social or mathematical conventions and lived a fiercely independent life. His achievements include creating the mathematical tools that were to prove essential to the proper understanding and use of electricity, finding a way to rid telephone lines of the distortion that had stifled progress, and showing that electrical power doesn't flow in a wire but in the space alongside it. At first his ideas were thought to be weird, even outrageous, and he had to battle long and hard to get them accepted. Yet by the end of his life he was awarded the first Faraday Medal. This engrossing story will restore long-overdue recognition to a scientist whose achievements in many ways were as crucial to our modern age as those of Edison's and Tesla's.
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