More than thirty years after Thomas Edison invented the light bulb, barely ten percent of American homes were wired for electricity. At the same time, electrotherapy emerged as a popular medical treatment for everything from depression to digestive problems. Why did Americans welcome electricity into their bodies, but not their homes? Today on Focus, Linda Simon joins us to talk about her new book Dark Light and its use of journalism and fiction to explore public anxiety and awe over electricity.
In his State of the Union address last year, President Bush called for the development of hydrogen as an energy source. This morning on Focus we'll talk with former Department of Energy official Joseph Romm about whether hydrogen could be powering our world in the near future. Romm says he doubts that hydrogen-powered cars will become available anytime soon—but hydrogen fuel cells could power our homes and businesses. He'll also discuss his recent book, The Hype About Hydrogen.
According to the National Academy of Sciences, the surface temperature of the Earth has risen by about a degree in the last 100 years. Many scientists argue that most of the warming over the last 50 years is due to human activity. Others say we don't have enough data to draw that conclusion. This morning on Focus, we're joined by Stanford biologist Stephen Schneider to explore the question of whether climate change is too uncertain for policy.
Many researchers believe that fuel cells will be the power sources of the future. They are more efficient than the internal combustion engine, have no moving parts, and produce almost no pollution. One day they may power our vehicles, our offices, and even our homes. This morning on Focus we're joined by Scott Barnett from Northwestern University to explore the basics of the fuel cell: how it works and some of its potential applications.