VIEW LARGER COVER
The electrical grid goes everywhere -- it's the largest and most complex machine ever made. Yet the system is built in such a way that the bigger it gets, the more inevitable its collapse.
Named the greatest engineering achievement of the 20th century by the National Academy of Engineering, the electrical grid is the largest industrial investment in the history of humankind. It reaches into your home, snakes its way to your bedroom, and climbs right up into the lamp next to your pillow. At times, it almost seems alive, like some enormous circulatory system that pumps life to big cities and the most remote rural areas.
Constructed of intricately interdependent components, the grid operates on a rapidly shrinking margin for error. Things can -- and do -- go wrong in this system, no matter how many preventive steps we take. Just look at the colossal 2003 blackout, when 50 million Americans lost power due to a simple error at a power plant in Ohio; or the one a month later, which blacked out 57 million Italians. And these two combined don't even compare to the 2001 outage in India, which affected 226 million people.
The Grid is the first history of the electrical grid intended for general readers, and it comes at a time when we badly need such a guide. As we get more and more dependent on electricity to perform even the most mundane daily tasks, the grid's inevitable shortcomings will take a toll on populations around the globe. At a moment when energy issues loom large on the nation's agenda and our hunger for electricity grows, The Grid is as timely as it is compelling.
Phillip F. Schewe is chief science writer at the American Institute of Physics. With a Ph.D. in particle physics, he participated in landmark research conducted at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory in Batavia, Illinois. He has written for national newspapers and magazines, including the Washington Post, and regularly provides clear and understandable analyses of the latest research findings in physics. He is also a playwright, with numerous productions at theaters in New York and Washington, D.C. Schewe might be the first person to have held memberships simultaneously in the American Physical Society, the Dramatists Guild, and the National Association of Science Writers. He and his family live in Takoma Park, Maryland.
Phillip F. Schewe. 2007. The Grid: A Journey Through the Heart of Our Electrified World. Washington, DC: Joseph Henry Press. https://doi.org/10.17226/11735.
The National Academies Press (NAP) has partnered with Copyright Clearance Center's Rightslink service to offer you a variety of options for reusing NAP content. Through Rightslink, you may request permission to reprint NAP content in another publication, course pack, secure website, or other media. Rightslink allows you to instantly obtain permission, pay related fees, and print a license directly from the NAP website. The complete terms and conditions of your reuse license can be found in the license agreement that will be made available to you during the online order process. To request permission through Rightslink you are required to create an account by filling out a simple online form. The following list describes license reuses offered by the National Academies Press (NAP) through Rightslink:
Click here to obtain permission for the above reuses. If you have questions or comments concerning the Rightslink service, please contact:
Rightslink Customer Care
Tel (toll free): 877/622-5543
To request permission to distribute a PDF, please contact our Customer Service Department at 800-624-6242 for pricing.
To request permission to translate a book published by the National Academies Press or its imprint, the Joseph Henry Press, pleaseclick here to view more information.