Lightning Strikes
How Ships Are Protected From Lightning

By: Hugh Cannell
February 2011
Book Guild
Distributed by Trans-Atlantic Publications
ISBN: 9781846245206
202 Pages, Illustrated
$39.95 Hardcover

In 1820 a bright and innovative apothecary from Plymouth began experiments with the intention of finding the best metal to conduct the newly described current of electricity. His use of purified copper was highly efficient and his copper conductor became a complete success in preventing deaths and damage at sea from lightning strikes to HM Ships. Such a valuable innovation would, surely, have been eagerly adopted by the Admiralty, and yet it took 22 years before William Snow Harris’ system was formally approved, and a further 18 years before the inventor was adequately rewarded for his work. Why was this? Lightning Strikes tells Harris’ story and reveals a web of political intrigue, rivalry, jealousy and bureaucratic bungling in the nineteenth-century corridors of power.

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