An “illuminating and important” look at the scientists, engineers, and entrepreneurs who are working to save us from catastrophic climate change (New York Journal of Books).
Nikola Tesla was considered a mad scientist by the society of his time for predicting global warming more than a hundred years ago. Today, we need visionaries like him to find sources of alternative energy and solutions to this looming threat.
Mad Like Tesla takes an in-depth look at climate issues, introducing thinkers and inventors such as Louis Michaud, a retired refinery engineer who claims we can harness the energy of man-made tornadoes, and 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, exploring the social, economic, financial, and personal obstacles that they continue to face.
Also covered is the existing state of green energy technologies—such as solar, wind, biofuels, smart grid, and energy storage—offering a ray of hope against a backdrop of dread.
“Hamilton makes complex technologies comprehensible.” —Library Journal
Hamilton, energy columnist for the Toronto Star, examines an array of ambitious ideas for alternatives to fossil fuels, such as nuclear fusion, space-based solar power, and man-made tornadoes. Hamilton argues that even if inventors on the fringe fail to develop new sources of energy "they still succeed by leading, by taking risks, by pursuing great leaps, and by keeping open minds when others remain so closed." Hamilton's vivid portrait of some of the people touting new technologies offers insight into why they've had trouble finding mainstream acceptance: one researcher who lays claim to inventing a machine that generates more power than it consumes considered a scientific impossibility drew the attention of musician Neil Young who entered a contest to design a car that achieves 100-miles-per-gallon. Hamilton approaches his subjects with an egalitarian bent, but it's not self-evident that a lone scientist's attempt to create a perpetual motion machine should be accorded the same weight as plans for space-based solar power by Solaren which already has secured a contract with Pacific Gas and Electric of San Francisco. Still, Hamilton isn't interested in forecasting winners and losers as much as arguing that any and all efforts to develop new energy sources will boost the odds of "black swans": unexpected events that "can blindside the optimists and the pessimists alike."