Pelican read of the week: Inventing the Future – Dennis Gabor

Inventing the Future

I recently stumbled on a selection of Pelican books in a charity shop and have a new obsession. Eek.

I have already been to a local second hand book shop and trawled the shelves for more (thanks Gosford Books). The cover designs and content of the ones I have are fantastic.

Today I am reading ‘Inventing the Future’ by Dennis Gabor. I am finding it difficult to stop turning the pages, but when drawn away I was interested to find out about the writer. Apparently Gabor was an electrical engineer who invented holography. He was also a gifted physicist and discussed cybernetics. And, lived just up the road from Coventry, in Rugby, for a short while. Wow.


Phase Work Balance


TEXT: They were trying to achieve a phase work balance across all human resources, in order to maximise capability. Bay was a rogue. He knew that a balance wasn’t required for greatness. All it achieved was a standard, a measurable, steady level of work. But no one knew why the spark appeared, why connectivity happened. It was still a mystery of electricity, of thought. Bay declined the invite, avoided meetings, didn’t fill out the staff surveys, refused to wear uniform and missed the employee engagement sessions. For some reason, they hadn’t given him the sack. Bay couldn’t really understand why they kept him on. Maybe they just needed a circuit breaker in order to keep things exciting. It gave them something to talk about, he supposed.

Grimy Oscilloscope


PM3244 Phillips Oscilloscope, a fab contrast between the greys and the brightly coloured tape on this machine.

TEXT: Jack watched as the invisible fields lifted the water in a perfect cube. The professor, drawing on his electronic pad, looked up with a confident pride as a small slice was taken. The room felt strange, static, Jack could sense the shifting patterns in the air, but could only only see an inexplicable, perfectly angular mass of water floating aloft towards his glass. “Just think of the uses” mouthed the professor, drawing the changing currents, controlling, confining. “This room is a simple grid. Everything is measured. All I do is divide, using this pad to control the electric fields. We always knew they were here, it was just a matter of plotting them, then harnessing their power. Once every space is on the grid, we’ll be able to use the lines for anything. Absolutely, anything.”