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When the Lights Went Out - A History of Blackouts in America (Anglais) Broché – 12 novembre 2013


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Where were you when the lights went out? At home during a thunderstorm? During the Great Northeastern Blackout of 1965? In California when rolling blackouts hit in 2000? In 2003, when a cascading power failure left fifty million people without electricity? We often remember vividly our time in the dark. In When the Lights Went Out, David Nye views power outages in America from 1935 to the present not simply as technical failures but variously as military tactic, social disruption, crisis in the networked city, outcome of political and economic decisions, sudden encounter with sublimity, and memories enshrined in photographs. Our electrically lit-up life is so natural to us that when the lights go off, the darkness seems abnormal. Nye looks at America's development of its electrical grid, which made large-scale power failures possible and a series of blackouts from military blackouts to the "greenout" (exemplified by the new tradition of "Earth Hour"), a voluntary reduction organized by environmental organizations. Blackouts, writes Nye, are breaks in the flow of social time that reveal much about the trajectory of American history.Each time one occurs, Americans confront their essential condition -- not as isolated individuals, but as a community that increasingly binds itself together with electrical wires and signals.


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1 internautes sur 1 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
A vivid lesson on the quirks in both our power grid and the psychology of electricity dependence 16 novembre 2010
Par Patrick Dougherty - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Relié
I set out in an ecopsychology class to write a term paper that looked at electricity dependence. This was influenced by Hollywood interpretations of apocalypse scenarios, that got me thinking about what it means to be psychologically dependent on electricity. When the lights go out, as in a blackout scenario, people come to terms (especially in a metropolis) with just how much they depend on electricity to run everything.

The key points I got from this very comprehensive history of the engineering science and psychology of blackouts are:

-People meet the neighbors they would never talk to except for their basic everyday greeting, for an information source, for supplies, and to discuss how spacey the phenomenon of intense silence is. People often make friends for life from these contacts.

-A detailed history of the building of the U.S. Electricity Grid and its vulnerability to blackouts

-An expanded personal meaning attached to the rare times that I completely remove myself from using electricity (except for body generated of course), leading to a greater appreciation for silence.

-My favorite passage, which discusses the romantic shadows cast by candlelight vs. electrical light, which tends to drown out the personality of the shadows of objects.
1 internautes sur 1 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Historical background plus thoughts about the future 29 décembre 2011
Par S. Wright - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Relié
Here is an outline of what you can find in this book:

Introduction: Author provides a brief summary of what will be covered in each chapter as the story moves between technical, social, political, and cultural history of blackouts.

Chapter 1 Grid: Overview of growth of electrical power in America, from early independent systems used mainly for lighting streets and small businesses, to huge interconnected systems now vital for many aspects of normal daily life.

Chapter 2 War: In 1935, the New York Times used the term "blackout" in relation to a one-hour darkening of Gibraltar related to military exercises. Prior to and during World War II, millions of civilians turned out lights to make cities less vulnerable to attack from the air. Before and after that war, a second form of intentional blackout was the result of power outages related to strikes by union workers.

Chapter 3 Accident: New York power failures in January 1936 and November 1965 are compared. The 1936 outage affected only about half of New York City, and life returned to normal in about three hours. The 1965 disruption affected Toronto, much of New England and upstate New York, and all of New York City except Staten Island and parts of Brooklyn. The blackout lasted as long as 13 hours in some parts of New York City, but the public generally behaved well, as illustrated by many anecdotes.

Chapter 4 Crisis: A power failure in July 1977 was accompanied by widespread looting in New York City. The author explains how increased demand for electricity, especially for air conditioning, and rising cost of oil contributed to a crisis mentality, but goes on to report that the 1977 disruption was not caused by insufficient generating capacity. Lightning initiated the outage, but a properly maintained system should have recovered in a few seconds. Instead, the loss of two 345-kilovolt power lines led to the automatic shutdown of a nuclear power plant. When more lightning shut down two more power lines and another major generating plant, the remaining system was stressed by a huge overload. A federal report concluded that the system collapsed due to a combination of natural events, equipment malfunctions, questionable system design features, and operating errors.

Chapter 5 Rolling Blackouts: In the 1980s, faced with public resistance to building new power plants and transmission lines, utilities dealt with peak demands that exceeded capacity by cutting off groups of customers in rotation for short periods of time. Deregulation of generation of electricity encouraged construction of new plants to increase supply, but inadequate attention to the distribution network and lack of regulation of energy traders such as Enron led to disastrous results in California in 2001. In August 2003, a blackout affecting an area from Ohio and Michigan through Toronto to New York City cost consumers an estimated $7 billion.

Chapter 6 Terror: Discusses fears of blackouts due to possible attacks by terrorists.

Chapter 7 Greenout? Discusses use of voluntary demonstrations to help build a future of alternative power generation and greater energy efficiency.

Notes: 35 pages of endnotes, grouped by chapter.
Bibliography: 15 pages
Index: 8 pages.
An interesting perspective 17 juillet 2013
Par No_Spark - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Format Kindle Achat vérifié
My day job is an engineer for an electric utility. I have viewed outages from a very technical perspective. Why, how long will it last, and how to prevent. This book showed me a different point of view.

The book seems fairly accurate from a technical perspective, so give it some engineering cred.
From a social perspective I learned, or perhaps pondered, some points.

I found it to be an easy and fun read.
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