The Invention of Air a new book by Stephen Johnson is out. Mostly a biography of Joseph Priestley (was his brother on 90210?) and the story of the discovery of Oxygen. It is also an exploration of a time in our history when a few glass tubes, a mint sprig, and and an air pump could be used to advance human knowledge and open up entire new fields of inquiry. Here is an excerpt from Joseph’s original description of how to create soda water (up to that point you could only get bubbling water from naturally occurring springs). It highlights his habit of sharing his discoveries as broadly as possible in order to foster innovation. If you only read one book by Stephen I’d vote for The Ghost Map, but if you read two, this one is pretty good.Ok, I stumbled through CES last week and ended up too worn out to compile links, so this week there will probably be a few from the show. Basically there was nothing much going on at CES except smaller, thinner, bigger, more cell phone connected, more connected connected, more robotic, more multitouch, more green (or trying to market themselves as such), less revolutionary, more evolutionary and all of course in 3-D.
1. Telepathy is the new black. This was one of the cooler things I saw at CES, basically you put a headset on and control a ball as it hovers through an obstacle course. Mattel was actually on fire at the show, and true to my “there will soon be cameras used for all sorts of things in every product you can imagine because they’re getting so cheap” mantra, they had the most amazing fingernail printer ever, and a whiteboard game where kids would draw stuff that would then become part of the game.
2. You know that the end of the world is coming when Coke Machines go digital… This one was in Samsung’s booth (Samsung had some of the nicest stuff at the show and this one was silly but fun.)