From Space to Earth: The Story of Solar Electricity

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Overview


From Space to Earth tracks the evolution of the technology of photovoltaics, the use of solar cells to convert the sun's energy into electricity. John Perlin's painstaking research results in a fascinating account of the development of this technology, from its shaky nineteenth-century beginnings mired in scientific controversy to its high-visibility success in the space program, to its current position as a versatile and promising power source.
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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Perlin (A Forest Journey) accessibly recounts the history of photovoltaics (the direct conversion of sunlight into electricity by solar cells) from the early 19th century to the present. In the 19th century scientists speculated, from the excavations of Pompeii, that the Romans had discovered that when clear glass is exposed to the sun, it acts as a solar heat trap. Building on this knowledge and coupling it with experiments using selenium, they created the world's first photoelectric module. This versatile power source continued to be important throughout the years: in the 1950s, solar batteries began to power telephone lines, space projects, navigation aids, and more; today, scientists are developing photovoltaic-powered satellites to provide Internet access to the remotest parts of the world. The story of photovoltaics also includes those individuals such as the priest in Mali whose innovations using solar cells and water brought relief to his drought-stricken country. This is fascinating reading for the layperson and would be suitable for large public, academic, and technical libraries where technology and the history of technology are in demand.--Eva Lautemann, Georgia Perimeter Coll. Lib., Clarkston Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
Booknews
Tells the success story of photovoltaics, the direct conversion of the sun's energy into electricity by solar cells. Tracks the evolution of photovoltaics from its 19th-century beginnings to its high-visibility success in the space program, and to its current position as a versatile power source that is improving our daily lives. Looks at the work of major figures in the field, and explains how solar cells are used for satellite communication systems, to power navigation systems, and to bring water, electricity, and telephones to remote areas around the world. Includes b&w photos of projects. Perlin is the author of , and co-author of . Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
From The Critics
From Space To Earth: The Story Of Solar Electricity surveys the fascinating evolution of photovoltaics from its problematic and controversial nineteenth century beginnings to its outstanding technological success in the space program, to the indispensable and versatile role as a power source for contemporary daily life. More than the story of a technology, From Space To Earth is also a chronicle of the individuals who, for the most part unrecognized in the history of science) persevered, took chances, bucked authority, innovated, invented, and crusaded to provide humanity with an infallible power source in the form of solar cells and the safe, clean, renewable energy they provide for everything from satellite communication systems to hot water heaters for the home. Informative and thoroughly "reader friendly", John Perlin's From Space To Earth is highly recommended reading and an important addition to any academic or public library history of science collection.
Nature

A vivid and fascinating historical account of the advances of photovoltaics on Earth. [Perlin's] book tells us the success story of the pioneers of solar cells, crediting them for their imagination and perseverance. Presenting the history of the development of photovoltaic cells in such a personalized manner makes it a much more lively and interesting read than a mere technical account would have done.
— Michael Gräzel

Whole Earth

John Perlin's delightful historical tour through the development of photovoltaics answers not only the question of what is new under the sun, but most importantly, how we got here...It's the best and most readable book on the social history of photovoltaics research, policy, and market growth.
— Daniel M. Kammen

Nature - Michael Gräzel
A vivid and fascinating historical account of the advances of photovoltaics on Earth. [Perlin's] book tells us the success story of the pioneers of solar cells, crediting them for their imagination and perseverance. Presenting the history of the development of photovoltaic cells in such a personalized manner makes it a much more lively and interesting read than a mere technical account would have done.
Whole Earth - Daniel M. Kammen
John Perlin's delightful historical tour through the development of photovoltaics answers not only the question of what is new under the sun, but most importantly, how we got here...It's the best and most readable book on the social history of photovoltaics research, policy, and market growth.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780937948149
  • Publisher: Taylor & Francis
  • Publication date: 6/1/1999
  • Edition description: 1
  • Pages: 240
  • Product dimensions: 7.63 (w) x 9.47 (h) x 0.92 (d)

Meet the Author

John Perlin is the critically acclaimed author of A Golden Thread: 2500 Years of Solar Architecture and Technology (with Ken Butti).
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Table of Contents

Preface
Acknowledgments
1. Photovoltaics: The Great Solar Hope
2. Photoelectric Dreams
3. The Dream Becomes Real
4. Searching for Applications
5. Saved by the Space Race
6. Bringing Solar Cells Down to Earth
7. The First Mass Earth Market
8. Captain Lomer's Saga
9. Working on the Railroad
10. Long Distance for Everyone
11. Father Verspieren Preaches the Solar Gospel
12. Electrifying the Unelectrified
13. Solarizing the Electrified
14. Better Cells, Cheaper Cells
15. The Silent Revolution Continues
Index
Illustration Credits
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