The Grid That Binds

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The electric grid. We don’t think much about it, until, of course, it fails. And last Thursday it did. A few tremors in the transmission lines in Ohio and zap – 50 million people plunged into darkness, without access to ATMs, email, or the internet. Now that the lights are back on, the lesson is clear: what the grid giveth, the grid taketh away, all in an instant.

The blackout illuminated how connected we are to the system that powers our every plug, and how vulnerable we are to technology that we take for granted but don’t understand. Experts say we can reconfigure the wires and adjust the dials, but that no one safeguard will prevent another blackout. And, that the next one will likely be worse.


Edward Tenner, author of “Why Things Bite Back: Technology and the Revenge of Unintended Consequences”;
Albert-Laszlo Barabasi, professor of physics at the University of Notre Dame and author of “Linked”;
Jennifer Esser, managing editor of “Wild Earth” journal;