Synopses & Reviews
On a Winter's evening in the East End of London in 1896, an unassuming young Italian gave the first public demonstartion of a device he had created in the attic of his family home near Bologna. It consisted of two wooden boxes, one of which could apparently transmit messages to the other "through the ether". Many in the audience suspected that they were witnessing a con man's trick. None could have guessed that Signor Guglielmo Marconi's magic box would be regarded as the most remarkable invention of the nineteenth century, and that he himself would become one of the most famous men in the world.
For this was nothing less than the birth of the radio, even if no scientist in Europe or America, not even Marconi himself, could at first say how it worked. And no one kenw how far these radio waves could travel, until 1903, when a message from President Theodore Roosevelt to the King of England flashed from Cape Cod to Cornwall clear across the Atlantic.
Signor Marconi's Magic Box is a rich protrait of the man and his era, and a captivating tale of science and scientists, business and businessmen.
andlsquo;andhellip;the book is sweetly written, carried along by unobtrusive good humour, a deep intuition for the history of ideas and a liberal salting of steam-punk esoterica.andrsquo;andmdash;Oliver Moody, the Times.andnbsp;
The world at the turn of the twentieth century was in the throes of "Marconi-mania"-brought on by an incredible invention that no one could quite explain, and by a dapper and eccentric figure (who would one day win the newly minted Nobel Prize) at the center of it all. At a time when the telephone, telegraph, and electricity made the whole world wonder just what science would think of next, the startling answer had come in 1896 in the form of two mysterious wooden boxes containing a device Marconi had rigged up to transmit messages "through the ether." It was the birth of the radio, and no scientist in Europe or America, not even Marconi himself, could at first explain how it worked...it just did.Here is a rich portrait of the man and his era-a captivating tale of British blowhards, American con artists, and Marconi himself-a character par excellence, who eventually winds up a virtual prisoner of his worldwide fame and fortune.
The extraordinary and often bizarre story of an amateur inventor and how his "magic box" changed the world
Tracing the long pre-history of five twentieth-century inventions which have transformed our lives, Gavin Weightman reveals a fantastic cast of scientists and inspired amateurs whose ingenuity has given us the airplane, television, bar code, personal computer, and mobile phone. Not one of these inventions can be attributed to a lone genius who experiences a moment of inspiration. Nearly all innovations exist in the imagination before they are finally made to work by the hard graft of inventors who draw on the discoveries of others.
While the discoveries of scientists have provided vital knowledge which has made innovation possible, it is a revelation of Weightmanandrsquo;s study that it is more often than not the amateur who enjoys the andldquo;eureka momentandrdquo; when an invention works for the first time. Filled with fascinating stories of struggle, rivalry, and the ingenuity of both famous inventors and hundreds of forgotten people, Weightmanandrsquo;s captivating work is a triumph of storytelling that offers a fresh take on the making of our modern world.
This witty and inspiring book chronicles the long history of discovery and ingenuity which gave rise to a andldquo;eureka momentandrdquo; when a dream of invention became a reality for the first time
About the Author
Gavin Weightman is a journalist, historian, and former documentary filmmaker. He has published more than twenty books, including The Frozen Water Trade: A True Story andand#160;Children of the Light: How Electricity Changed Britain Forever. He lives in London.