Oliver Heaviside: maverick mastermind of electricity

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  • Author:

  • Year: 2009

  • Format: Paperback

  • Product Code: PBHT0360

  • ISBN: 978-0-86341-965-2

  • Pagination: 224 pp.

  • Stock Status: In stock

£27.95 Member price

£43.00 Full price


One of the great pioneers of electrical science, Oliver Heaviside (1850-1925) was a self-educated, fiercely independent genius who cared nothing for social or mathematical conventions. Among many achievements, he showed how to rid telephone lines of distortion and put Maxwell's wonderful but hitherto inaccessible theory of electromagnetism into its modern form. In his writings, and in life, he was always provocative, often amusing, sometimes infuriating, but never dull.

This is a compelling account of Heaviside's life with a powerful insight into his scientific thinking and why it has been so influential.

About the Author: Basil Mahon is a former officer in the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers. He is also a retired Government Statistician who ran the 1991 census in England and Wales and has had a lifelong passion for the physical sciences. The Amazing Oliver Heaviside follows up his acclaimed book The Man Who Changed Everything, a biography of Heaviside's own hero James Clerk Maxwell.

Book review

“…an engaging account of this heady, confusing period when electromagnetism was a young science and Heaviside was one of its greatest – and most eccentric – exponents. For Heaviside’s relative obscurity was at least partly his own fault. Although he could be witty and even charming to his friends, he was also a thoroughly awkward individual who bore grudges like a champion, speckled his scientific articles with thinly veiled attacks on his enemies and repeatedly rejected pleas to make his papers more understandable.

Mahon is clearly sympathetic to his subject, but he does not shrink from the more challenging aspects of either Heaviside’s character or his science. This slim volume is an excellent introduction to both.”  Physics World, October 2009

Book readership

Anyone with an interest in electrical science, engineering or technology, both professionals and recreational readers.

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