Paul J. Nahin


Paul J. Nahin (born November 26, 1940 in Orange County, California) is an American electrical engineer and author who has written 20 books on topics in physics and mathematics, including biographies of Oliver Heaviside, George Boole, and Claude Shannon, books on mathematical concepts such as Euler's formula and the imaginary unit, and a number of books on the physics and philosophical puzzles of time travel.

Born in California, he graduated from Brea Olinda High School in 1958, and thereafter received a B.S. from Stanford University in 1962, an M.S. from the California Institute of Technology in 1963, and a Ph.D. from the University of California, Irvine in 1972, all in electrical engineering.[1]

He thereafter taught at Harvey Mudd College, the University of Virginia, and the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California.[1] As of 2004, Nahin was an emeritus professor of electrical engineering at the University of New Hampshire.

Nahin received the 2017 Chandler Davis Prize for Excellence in Expository Writing in Mathematics and, in 1979, the first Harry Rowe Mimno writing award from the IEEE Areospace and Electronic Systems Society.

He married Patricia A. Telepka in 1962.


  • Hot Molecules, Cold Electrons: From the Mathematics of Heat to the Development of the Trans-Atlantic Telegraph (2020)
  • Transients for Electrical Engineers: Elementary Switched-Circuit Analysis in the Time and Laplace Transform Domains (with a touch of MATLAB®) (2018)
  • How to Fall Slower Than Gravity: And Other Everyday (and Not So Everyday) Uses of Mathematics and Physical Reasoning (2018)
  • In Praise of Simple Physics: The Science and Mathematics behind Everyday Questions (2016)
  • Inside Interesting Integrals (2014); pbk edition
  • Holy Sci-Fi!: Where Science Fiction and Religion Intersect (2014)[2]
  • Will You Be Alive in 10 Years?: And Numerous Other Curious Questions in Probability (2014)
  • The Logician and the Engineer: How George Boole and Claude Shannon Created the Information Age (2012); 2017 pbk edition
  • When Least Is Best: How Mathematicians Discovered Many Clever Ways to Make Things as Small (or as Large) as Possible (2011);
  • Number-Crunching: Taming Unruly Computational Problems from Mathematical Physics to Science Fiction (2011)
  • Dr. Euler's Fabulous Formula: Cures Many Mathematical Ills (2011)[3] 2017 pbk edition
  • Digital dice: computational solutions to practical probability problems (2008); 2013 pbk edition
  • Time Travel: A Writer's Guide to the Real Science of Plausible Time Travel (1997); 2011 pbk edition
  • Mrs. Perkins's Electric Quilt: And Other Intriguing Stories of Mathematical Physics (2009)
  • Chases and Escapes: The Mathematics of Pursuit and Evasion (2007; reprinted in paperback 2012)[4]
  • Time Machines: Time Travel in Physics, Metaphysics, and Science Fiction (2001)[5]
  • The Science of Radio: With MATLAB and Electronics Workbench Demonstrations, 2nd Edition (2001)
  • Duelling Idiots and Other Probability Puzzlers (2000); 2012 pbk edition
  • An Imaginary Tale: The Story of -1 (1998)[6][7]
  • Oliver Heaviside: Sage in Solitude : The Life, Work, and Times of an Electrical Genius of the Victorian Age (1988)[8][9][10][11] 2002 pbk edition


  1. ^ a b Electrical and computer engineering expert offers annual Sampson Lecture Bates College News (March 23, 2011).
  2. ^ A. Bultheel (2014) Review: Intersect from European Mathematical Society.
  3. ^ Henry Ricardo (2006) Review: Euler's Fabulous from Mathematical Association of America.
  4. ^ Reviews of Chases and Escapes:
    • Colyvan, Mark (December 2007), "The calculus of cat and mouse", Australian Review of Public Affairs
    • Dartnell, Lewis (December 1, 2007), "Review", Plus Magazine
    • Heuer, G. A. (2008), Mathematical Reviews, MR 2319182CS1 maint: untitled periodical (link)
    • Mahanti, Prabhat Kumar, zbMATH, Zbl 1154.91006CS1 maint: untitled periodical (link)
    • Mullins, Justin (June 27, 2007), "The hunter and the hunted", New Scientist, 194 (2610): 50, doi:10.1016/S0262-4079(07)61656-X
    • Puharic, Douglas (December 2013 – January 2014), The Mathematics Teacher, 107 (5): 395, doi:10.5951/mathteacher.107.5.0394, JSTOR 10.5951/mathteacher.107.5.0394CS1 maint: untitled periodical (link)
    • Satzer, William J. (June 2007), "Review", MAA Reviews, Mathematical Association of America
    • Sonnabend, Thomas (March 2008), The Mathematics Teacher, 101 (7): 558, JSTOR 20876207CS1 maint: untitled periodical (link)
    • Tabachnikov, Serge (March 2009), The Mathematical Intelligencer, 31 (2): 78–79, doi:10.1007/s00283-009-9036-z, S2CID 124934344CS1 maint: untitled periodical (link)
  5. ^ Danielle L. Parker (2006) Review:Time Travel from Bewildering Stories.
  6. ^ Ed Sandifer (1999) Review:Imaginary Tale from Mathematical Association of America.
  7. ^ Blank, Brian E. (November 1999). "Review of An imaginary tale: The story of √-1 by Paul J. Nahin" (PDF). Notices of the AMS. 46 (10): 1233–1236.
  8. ^ Y.H. Ku (1989) Journal of the Franklin Institute 326:3.
  9. ^ Robert Rosenberg (1989) Isis.
  10. ^ George E. Webb (1989) The Historian, Review of Oliver Heaviside.
  11. ^ Jed Buchwald (1991) Centaurus. doi:10.1111/j.1600-0498.1985.tb00750.x

External links