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Driving Force

Driving Force

The Natural Magic of Magnets

James D. Livingston

ISBN 9780674216457

Publication date: 04/25/1997

Driving Force unfolds the long and colorful history of magnets: how they guided (or misguided) Columbus; mesmerized eighteenth-century Paris but failed to fool Benjamin Franklin; lifted AC power over its rival, DC, despite all the animals, one human among them, executed along the way; led Einstein to the theory of relativity; helped defeat Hitler's U-boats; inspired writers from Plato to Dave Barry. In a way that will delight and instruct even the nonmathematical among us, James Livingston shows us how scientists today are creating magnets and superconductors that can levitate high-speed trains, produce images of our internal organs, steer high-energy particles in giant accelerators, and--last but not least--heat our morning coffee.

From the "new" science of materials to everyday technology, Driving Force makes the workings of magnets a matter of practical wonder. The book will inform and entertain technical and nontechnical readers alike and will give them a clearer sense of the force behind so much of the working world.


  • [A] delightful little book...[Livingston] connects magnetism to both past and present human culture and its underlying technology. This connection ranges over an incredible breadth of topics and personalities, a few (nonscientist) examples of the latter being James Bond, Plato, Ben Jonson, Gilbert and Sullivan, Jonathan Swift, Mary Baker Eddy, Dick Tracy, Uri Geller and Madonna...A smashing book...I wish there were more science books for the general population written with so engaging an approach.

    —Paul M. Grant, Nature


  • James D. Livingston is a former physicist at General Electric and lecturer at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Book Details

  • 334 pages
  • 6-1/8 x 8-3/4 inches
  • Harvard University Press

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