A search for the contemporary Nikola Tesla - considered a mad scientist by his society for predicting global warming more than 100 years ago - fuels this analysis of climate issues, which introduces thinkers and inventors who are working to find possible ways out of the energy crisis. From Louis Michaud, a retired refinery engineer who claims we can harness the energy of man-made tornadoes, to a professor and a businessman who are running a company that genetically modifies algae so it can secrete ethanol naturally, these individuals and their unorthodox methods are profiled through first-person interviews, exposing the social, economic, financial, and personal barriers that prevent them from making an impact with their ideas.
The existing state of green energy technologies, such as solar, wind, biofuels, smart grid, and energy storage, is also explored, creating a sense of hope against a backdrop of climate dread.
Nuclear power, flying machines, satellites - there was a time when all these technologies, now largely taken for granted, were considered impossible, and their advocates derided as lunatics. Indeed, Serbian scientist Nikola Tesla offers a telling reminder of underappreciated genius' potency: his most noteworthy inventions, including alternating current (AC) and radio communication, are more widely used today than during his lifetime. Mad Like Tesla examines fringe inventors of the 21st century, many of them, like Tesla, working in the field of energy. Performer Peter Johnson introduces listeners to a litany of curious conservationists, attempting to harness energy from tornadoes, algae, nuclear fusion, and outer-space solar panels, among other sources. Johnson is fluid and direct while nevertheless betraying the inquisitive, thought-provoking nature of this unconventional anthology.
"Hamilton's vivid portrait of some of the people touting new technologies offers insight into why they've had trouble finding mainstream acceptance." (Publishers Weekly)
"Canadian science writer Tyler Hamilton has given the scientific community working on renewable energy solutions a public relations boost with his illuminating and important book, Mad Like Tesla: Underdog Inventors and Their Relentless Pursuit of Clean Energy." (New York Journal of Books)
"Narrator Peter Johnson offers an even reading that keeps the material flowing without artificial emotion. He adopts a tone of gee-whiz enthusiasm that matches the novelty of some of the scientists’ ideas." (Audiofile)
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