You have written on Enlightenment thinkers in the past, especially Voltaire. Why are you drawn to this period/these people?
They were so neat - and it’s a period when a great deal about our modern world was being created. When Voltaire was a child, if someone fell stricken in the streets of Paris a priest would race out from a church to administer last rites. When Voltaire was old, if someone fell stricken, there was a great chance a medical specialist would be sent racing out from a municipal building to try medical help- a total shift in world view.
This is not the first time you have published the personal works of your "characters" (i.e. the diary of Heinrich Hertz in Electric Universe). Where was most of your research done for this book? Where did you find the poems/letters?
Most of the research was done in the British Library (great collection), or London Library (a bit smaller, but you can take stuff home!) I like having counterpoints to ordinary narrative text here and there in a book, be it the typographical chapter on the equals sign in E=MC2, or this about Hertz. There’s something similar in, I think, chapter seven of Passionate Minds, my latest book.
Science writing seems to be an up and coming field, especially with the explosion of information on the net and the popularity of writers like yourself. What are your thoughts on the state/future of science writing?
It’ll fade a bit, no doubt, but for now people like learning about this aspect of how our complex world works, also a number of fun or deep writers have moved towards it, which always helps.
Future books in the works right now?
Passionate Minds, which is on sale now.
Thanks again, David, for taking some time to chat.
Thanks to you too.
Here, here and here are a a few more interviews with Bodanis, if you're interested.