Introducing Mad Science, a History Book of Our Wired World

Do you know what happened on this day in 1666?

You would if you read Mad Science: Einstein’s Fridge, Dewar’s Flask, Mach’s Speed, and 362 Other Inventions and Discoveries That Made Our World, the new Wired book that exposes you to the history of the ideas, creations, discoveries and events that shaped our wired world — one day at a time.

Based on our popular This Day in Tech blog, and edited by yours truly, Mad Science is the best of the best: forty of’s finest writers chronicling hundreds of years of “aha” moments that affect our daily lives, from the parking meter to the ATM to the microwave oven.

Did you know that a Florida doctor invented mechanical refrigeration to help his patients recover from tropical fevers? Did you know that Einstein invented his own fridge, and after 80 years his design might finally go into production?

You think a light bulb went off in Edison’s head when he invented the light bulb? Hardly: It took him and his staff of “muckers” 14 months and 1,200 experiments to find the suitable materials for a filament. And after all that, he might not have been the bulb’s first inventor?

What did Alexander Graham Bell really say to Mr. Watson? And who invented the Xerox machine? The bandaid? The container ship? What about the traffic signal and the shopping cart, let alone the transistor and the microchip?

Folks lined up around the block in New York City in 1945 to pay to buy the latest technological wonder: a ballpoint pen! And they paid the equivalent of $150 in today’s money.

And the most important question of all: What happened on your birthday?

I’ve been working on this project for two years, and I’m proud of the result. This is a book for readers who like to graze a book’s small plates or bite-size nibbles, nonfiction readers, science-fiction readers, people who browse almanacs, people who surf the dictionary, because one word just leads to another. And it’s great for people who read while they’re sitting down in the smallest room in the house.

It’s a book for techies, science nerds, science wiz kids, gearheads, gamers, and people who are just plain curious about the world they live in. I think it’s a great gift for a techie parent, spouse, sibling, child, friend or sweetheart, when you can’t give them hardware or software because you don’t know whether they need it, use it, already have it, or if it’s compatible with what they’ve got. They don’t have this book. I think they’ll love it.


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