A significant but less-than-riveting first-person account by a pioneer in energy technology.



Preble et al. collect several journals of celebrated engineer William C. Brown in this first volume in a series.

Brown is remembered primarily for being the first person to propose and then demonstrate Microwave Power Transmission, in which electrical energy is transferred using electromagnetic waves. The discovery has great potential application for solar energy, making it possible—as Preble notes in his introduction—to “efficiently, safely, and cost-effectively bring the continuously available sunshine at geosynchronous orbit back to power Earth’s growing electric power grids.” Brown used ingenuity and experimentation to develop the key piece of technology—he called it the “rectenna”—to make MPT possible in 1964, which is also the year that this volume begins. The four journals track Brown’s progress through 1975, including accounts of his first demonstration of MPT on national television, when he powered a small helicopter using a microwave beam for CBS Evening News with Walter Cronkite. Later, Apollo 11 carried another of Brown’s inventions, the Amplitron, on its mission to the moon, using it to broadcast back to Earth the video and audio of Neil Armstrong’s famous first lunar step. Over the course of the decade covered here, Brown documents how technology slowly advanced: truly one day at a time. Brown’s voice is workmanlike but warm, and there are moments when his satisfaction at his hard work shine through his usual professional exterior, as this entry from four days after the moon landing show: “In my own small way, I felt that I had really contributed through the communications system, which brought back the TV and the voice and the telemetering from the Moon. The 20-watt Amplitron did its job well.” However, for every historic moment, there are a hundred pages of fairly unremarkable entries covering the development of Brown’s work and his daily interactions with family and colleagues. Posterity should be grateful that the scientist wrote so much down and that it is now being published, but it’s difficult to see many outside of Brown’s field reading the entirety of this over 500-page volume, much less the full series of intended volumes.

A significant but less-than-riveting first-person account by a pioneer in energy technology.

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: 978-1-63183-438-7

Page Count: 530

Publisher: The Space Solar Power Institute

Review Posted Online: April 10, 2019

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Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis...



Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.

Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").

Pub Date: May 15, 1972

ISBN: 0205632645

Page Count: 105

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1972

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Possibly inspired by the letters Cleary has received as a children's author, this begins with second-grader Leigh Botts' misspelled fan letter to Mr. Henshaw, whose fictitious book itself derives from the old take-off title Forty Ways W. Amuse a Dog. Soon Leigh is in sixth grade and bombarding his still-favorite author with a list of questions to be answered and returned by "next Friday," the day his author report is due. Leigh is disgruntled when Mr. Henshaw's answer comes late, and accompanied by a set of questions for Leigh to answer. He threatens not to, but as "Mom keeps nagging me about your dumb old questions" he finally gets the job done—and through his answers Mr. Henshaw and readers learn that Leigh considers himself "the mediumest boy in school," that his parents have split up, and that he dreams of his truck-driver dad driving him to school "hauling a forty-foot reefer, which would make his outfit add up to eighteen wheels altogether. . . . I guess I wouldn't seem so medium then." Soon Mr. Henshaw recommends keeping a diary (at least partly to get Leigh off his own back) and so the real letters to Mr. Henshaw taper off, with "pretend," unmailed letters (the diary) taking over. . . until Leigh can write "I don't have to pretend to write to Mr. Henshaw anymore. I have learned to say what I think on a piece of paper." Meanwhile Mr. Henshaw offers writing tips, and Leigh, struggling with a story for a school contest, concludes "I think you're right. Maybe I am not ready to write a story." Instead he writes a "true story" about a truck haul with his father in Leigh's real past, and this wins praise from "a real live author" Leigh meets through the school program. Mr. Henshaw has also advised that "a character in a story should solve a problem or change in some way," a standard juvenile-fiction dictum which Cleary herself applies modestly by having Leigh solve his disappearing lunch problem with a burglar-alarmed lunch box—and, more seriously, come to recognize and accept that his father can't be counted on. All of this, in Leigh's simple words, is capably and unobtrusively structured as well as valid and realistic. From the writing tips to the divorced-kid blues, however, it tends to substitute prevailing wisdom for the little jolts of recognition that made the Ramona books so rewarding.

Pub Date: Aug. 22, 1983

ISBN: 143511096X

Page Count: 133

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 16, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1983

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