David Bodanis


David Bodanis
BornChicago, Illinois
Alma materUniversity of Chicago
Notable awardsAventis Prize

David Bodanis is a speaker, business advisor and writer of bestselling nonfiction books, notably E=mc2: A Biography of the World's Most Famous Equation, which was translated into 26 languages. Originally from Chicago, he received an undergraduate education in mathematics, physics and economics at the University of Chicago (AB 1977). He lived in France for ten years from his early twenties and has since been based in London.

Early life and education

Bodanis was born and brought up in Chicago, Illinois, and read mathematics, physics and history at the University of Chicago. In his early twenties he moved to Paris, where he began his career as a foreign correspondent for the International Herald Tribune. A move to the South of France followed, and he then split his time between France and London, combining writing with stints as a science presenter on 1980s ITV show, the Wide Awake Club.

Bodanis moved to the UK full-time in the late 1980s, combining writing with teaching social sciences at St Antony's College, Oxford, consulting for the Royal Dutch Shell Scenario Prediction unit, and speaking engagements including at conferences and Davos.


In 1986 Bodanis had his first commercial authorial success with The Secret House: 24 Hours in the Strange & Wonderful World in Which We Spend Our Nights and Days, which reached no 5 on The New York Times Best Seller list and established him as a popular science writer. This book introduces Bodanis’s "microphotography" writing style, in which the author takes a worm's-eye view perspective that allows him to observe many obscure and complex phenomena of everyday life.

In 2001 he published E=mc2: A Biography of the World's Most Famous Equation[1] which was translated into 20 languages, and longlisted for the Samuel Johnson Prize for non-fiction. In 2005, it was made into a documentary for Channel 4,[2] and aired on PBS under the name Einstein's Big Idea.[3] In 2009, E=mc2 was made into a ballet by the Birmingham Royal Ballet,[4] under director David Bintley, and won the South Bank Award for best British Dance of the year.[5]

Electric Universe: How Electricity Switched on the Modern World followed in 2006, and won the Royal Society Prize for Best Science Book of the Year.[6][7] Bodanis caused some controversy by pledging to donate his prize to the family of the late government scientist, Dr David Kelly.[8][9]

In 2006 Bodanis published Passionate Minds, the story of a brilliant but forgotten French scientist, Émilie du Châtelet, and her intellectual love affair with Voltaire. Passionate Minds was the BBC’s Book of the Week on Radio 4 in June 2006,[10] and featured on the cover of The Economist.[11]

In 2013, Bodanis contributed an essay, "Computer-Generated Fascism" published in John Brockman's Edge Question series, What Should We Be Worried About? Real Scenarios That Keep Scientists Up at Night.[12]

David’s Einstein’s Greatest Mistake: The Life of a Flawed Genius was published September 2016. His essay appeared at NPR in December 2016.[13]

In November 2020, David published The Art of Fairness: The Power of Decency in a World Turned Mean.


Personal life

Bodanis lives in London with his second wife and stepson. He has two children by a previous marriage. A keen kickboxer, he is a regular at Paragon Gym in Shoreditch, London, where he trains with champion kickboxing brothers, John and Stuart Lawson.


  • Bodanis, David (1984). Being Human. ISBN 978-0712603560.
  • Bodanis, David (1985). The Body Book: A Fantastic Voyage to the World Within. ISBN 978-0316100724.
  • Bodanis, David (1986). The Secret House: 24 Hours in the Strange and Unexpected World in which We Spend our Nights and Days. ISBN 067160032X. OCLC 13643652.
  • Bodanis, David (1988). Web of Words: The Ideas Behind Politics. ISBN 978-0333389751.
  • Bodanis, David (1992). The Secret Garden: Dawn to Dusk in the Astonishing Hidden World of the Garden. ISBN 978-0671663537.
  • Bodanis, David (2001). E=mc2: A Biography of the World's Most Famous Equation. ISBN 978-0802718211.[15]
  • Bodanis, David (2005). Electric Universe: How Electricity Switched On the Modern World. ISBN 978-0-307-33598-2.
  • Bodanis, David (2006). Passionate Minds: The Great Love Affair of the Enlightenment, Featuring the Scientist Emilie du Chatelet, the Poet Voltaire, Sword Fights, Book Burnings, Assorted Kings. ISBN 0-307-23720-6.
  • Bodanis, David (2016). Einstein's Greatest Mistake: The Life of a Flawed Genius. ISBN 978-1-4087-0809-5.[16][17][18][19]
  • Bodanis, David (2020). The Art of Fairness: The Power of Decency in a World Turned Mean. ISBN 0349128219


  1. ^ Bodanis, D (2000). E=mc2: A Biography of the World's Most Famous Equation. Walker Books. ISBN 0802713521.
  2. ^ "E=mc2: Einstein and the World's Most Famous Equation". Channel 4. 2005.
  3. ^ "Einstein's Big Idea". Internet Movie Database.
  4. ^ Norman, N (2009-11-13). "DANCE: Quantum Leaps, Birmingham Royal Ballet, Sadler's Wells". Sunday Express.
  5. ^ Craine, D (2009-11-12). "E=mc2 at Sadler's Wells". The Times.
  6. ^ "Best Science Book of the Year: David Bodanis, "Electric Universe – How Electricity Switched on the Modern World". 2006.
  7. ^ Morelle, R (2006-05-16). "Electric book wins science prize". BBC News.
  8. ^ Sample, I; Randerson J (2006-05-17). "Science book winner donates prize to David Kelly's family". The Guardian.
  9. ^ Connor, S (2006-05-18). "Scientist donates prize money to Kelly's family". The Independent.
  10. ^ "Book of the Week, Passionate Minds". BBC Radio 4. June 2006.
  11. ^ "Love and the Enlightenment: The Woman Behind the Man". The Economist. 2006-05-18.
  12. ^ Bodanis, D. "Computer-Generated Fascism".
  13. ^ "Einstein's Age Of Extremism". NPR.org. Retrieved 2017-01-18.
  14. ^ "South Bank Show Awards 2010". West End theatre tickets. Encore Tickets Limited. 26 January 2010. Retrieved October 1, 2019.
  15. ^ "Relatively simple: The equation that explains our complex world (Book Review)". The Economic Times. Retrieved 2017-01-18.
  16. ^ Datta, Devangshu (2017-01-12). "Einstein's quantum leap back". Business Standard India. Retrieved 2017-01-18.
  17. ^ "Einstein's Greatest Mistake: The Life of a Flawed Genius by David Bodanis". Retrieved 2017-01-18.
  18. ^ Dorminey, Bruce. "Lesson From Einstein: Genius Needs Perseverance". Forbes. Retrieved 2017-01-18.
  19. ^ "Einstein's Greatest Mistake: The Life of a Flawed Genius". Cosmos Magazine. Retrieved 2017-01-18.

External links

  • Official website
  • Bodanis’s page at Conville and Walsh literary agents
  • Bodanis’s page, JLA speaking agency
  • Bodanis, David articles for The Guardian
  • Appearances on C-SPAN