Category - farnovision

Coming Soon: TBWIT – The Audiobook!

Coming Soon: TBWIT - The Audiobook!

More than fifty years after I first heard of Philo T. Farnsworth (in the summer if 1973)…

More than twenty years after The Boy Who Invented Television was first published…

And a year after it was re-published (after the release of The Man Who Mastered Gravity)…

There is finally going to be an audiobook edition!

Once the book was re-released last year, I considered several options for converting it to an audiobook.  I auditioned several narrators via the Audible platform at Amazon, but finally opted to do the reading myself after enlisting the production assistance of Robert Lane, the creator of a program called “Your Book, Your Voice.”

I started working with Robert back in January. It has taken the better part of the past four months to get the project done.  Each week I would read and record several chapters.  I sent the files to Robert, he edited and mastered them and uploaded them to Audible.

I found the experience of reading and recording the text quite gratifying*, to hear how the way I write sounds like the way I talk and vice-versa.

We finished all the uploads this week and have submitted the project to Audible for review.  I expect the production to go ‘live’ before the middle of May.

Keep an eye on the Amazon sales page, the audiobook will show up there the minute it’s approved.


*when I wasn’t wondering “why am I still grinding on this material, much of which I first wrote more than 50 years ago!” ‍♂️

“It’s an odd mission…

HEAS 2023

… but this seems to be my destiny in this life.

(what follows is the reading I did at Richard Hull’s High Energy Amateur Science (HEAS) gathering in Richmond, VA on October 7, 2023. If you don’t care to read the whole thing, here’s an audio recording I made with my iPhone (no promises re: the quality). Photo above by David Rosignoli.


Tonight’s reading is in two parts.

Part 1 is the Foreword to the 2023 Edition of The Boy Who Invented Television:


“It’s an odd mission… but this seems to be my destiny in this life.” 

I tossed that line off to a friend in March 2023.  

At the time I was nearing the release of my second book, The Man Who Mastered Gravity – the biography of a mercurial figure named Thomas Townsend Brown.  That book is now available from booksellers worldwide. 

Some guys fly to the moon. Some guys start a company and make a billion bucks. Some guys become doctors or lawyers – that’s what my parents always expected of me.  Some guys become auto mechanics, bakers, candlestick makers or Indian chiefs. 

Some guys become writers and publish dozens of books.

And some guys… well, so far I’ve written/published two books.  

It has only taken me fifty years.  

Nobody is ever going to accuse me of being prolific.

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It’s Busterheimer Time!

Barbie + Oppy + Buster = Busterheimer

Hi kids!

How’s your summer going?  Have you jumped on the BarbieHeimer cultural zeitgeist  yet?

I’ve jumped on half of it.

I went to see Oppenheimer last week, and have already written a couple of things about it.  Rather than duplicate those efforts, here’s the links:

First, I started a discussion at – the site I create (in 1998!) to explore the one form of nuclear energy (controlled fusion) that we do not have at our disposal (the one Einstein said was “the good part of my theories”!).

I am nobody’s idea of a film critic, but I can play one on the Internet so I posted my idea of a review here – with some links to some useful background material. There are a few add-on thoughts that I posted as well.

What I really wanted to write about is what I have always considered the missing piece in this puzzle.

Now for today’s science lesson:

There are four ways to release nuclear energy.  Two of them involve fission – splitting atoms,  and two of them involve fusion – squeezing atoms together.  In either case – fission or fusion – the reaction can be explosive:  ‘Atomic’ bombs are explosive fission and ‘hydrogen’ bombs are explosive fusion. Or the reaction can be controlled: The kind of nuclear reactor that pumps electricity into the grid is controlled fission.

A controlled fusion reaction…that’s the missing piece, the ‘star in a jar’ we seemingly haven’t figured out yet.  And that’s what’s fascinated me since 1973.

All of this discussion of atoms and energy started when Einstein whipped up his little equation E=mcway back in 1905.  There were many steps and many physicists who embellished on Einstein’s theories in the ensuing four decades leading up to the Trinity Test in New Mexico, but Einstein’s equation was (pardon the expression) ‘ground zero’ for the whole undertaking.

So I was intrigued when I kept seeing a scene in the trailer for Oppenheimer that showed an encounter between the title character (Cillian Murphy) and Einstein (Tom Conti) at the edge of a pond.  That scene turned out to supply a critical thematic underpinning for the entire three hour film.

Once I’d seen the movie and understood how that scene fit in (never mind that it never actually happened), I knew what I wanted to write about those two characters and the one I’ve been obsessed with.  Behold….

Oppenheimer, Einstein – And Farnsworth

I hope y’all have time to click over there and take a gander.

Now then, About Buster…

Those of you who subscribe to my ‘Buster Sez’ occasional weekly newsletter will notice that Buster is dressed a little oddly in this week’s masthead photo.

Buster in Collar

Oh please. You want me to wear this???

How shall I say? Buster’s been feeling poorly the past couple of weeks.  Something must have bit her on her back, just below the neckline, and she’s licked on it to the point that there’s a big hole in her fur, and I guess that caused some kind of infection.  She spent a whole weekend hiding under the covers before I could get her to the vet, who gave her a couple of injections.

She’s mostly recovered since then and is much more like her usual rambunctious self, but that damn sore on her back has been slow to heal, hence the collar.  That collar really didn’t work though, so I’m waiting for Amazon to deliver a “kitty onesie” that I hope will cover the bald spot so I an apply the ointment the vet prescribed and keep her from licking it off.

She’s back to spending a lot of time under the covers but I think she’ll be OK. I’m sure she’ll be crawling over me tonight as usual.


So that’s how my summer has been going.  How’s yours?

If you have any idea what a piston is supposed to look like, then you’ve got a pretty good idea “what’s wrong with this picture?”

Oh. And.  One other thing:

I got a new car.  The original Mustang – the one I got back in 2019 just after the divorce – was cursed.  Long story short: it was in the shop like ten times this year, ending with the two words you don’t ever want to hear in the same sentence: “engine” and “replacement.”

So fuck it.

I  just replaced the whole damn car.  And this time –instead of replacing the engine – I got one with twice as many cylinders.

This thing is awesome! 

2020 Mustang GT Convertible

It’s a 2020 Mustang GT Convertible. I got it with 16K miles! 

Some things never change.

A Tale of Two Biographies (Part 1)

Philo. T. Farnsworth and T. Townsend Brown


The initial impulse was innocent enough. 

After Apple canned me in January ’22 and I had nothing but time on my hands, I started to wonder two things: 1) what to do with the time and 2) how to restore that little bit of income, which for five years had made the difference between living on ‘portfolio income’ and running out of capital before I run out of breath.  

A couple of months after I’d hung up my Apple T-shirts I got a check from the self-publishing service called ‘‘ – which I’d used to publish the unfinished Townsend Brown biography after I abandoned the project back in 2009.  The check was not very much, maybe $60 or $80 for a quarter.

Necessity being the mother of invention stories, that was enough to get me wondering: if I dusted off the manuscript, could that trickle be turned into an actual stream?

By then I’d had Mike Williams’ rewrite for several years.  I tried to do something with it when Mike first presented it to me in 2018, but I didn’t have the patience then for the very granular work of restoring my ‘voice’ to the expedited narrative Mike had distilled. 

It’s not like I’d ever stoped thinking about what-the-hell had happened back in 2009 – when my collaboration with Brown’s daugther went off the rails, when the only interested agent rejected the proposal, saying “there’s no meat on the bones” – when I closed the book and put it away.  I did expect I might return to it some day.  I just didn’t think it would be another twelve years. 

Still, over the ensuing years I found myself returning to certain themes I could dwell on and some story points I could focus on.  

My computer workstation

The Room Where It Happened.

With nothing but time on my hands (and, more importantly, no co-habitant  telling me not to) I re-visited the files in the spring of 2022. 

I opened three windows on my 27″ display: my 2009 manuscript, Mike’s 2018 rewrite, and a new window where I cobbled the pieces back together.  It took about six months to reconcile my original manuscript with the Mike’s scaled down version.  

Fast forward to this recent spring.  With the help of designers in Pakistan and Bangladesh I found through, I had a book ready to upload to Amazon’s Kindle Direct platform. 

I didn’t stop there.  

Not only had I thought a lot about the themes running through the Townsend Brown story, I also thought a lot about what that story had in common with the Philo Farnsworth story that was published back in 2002.⁠1  And it occurred to me that so much has happened since that book was first published that it was time for an update – and a new introduction to explore what ties the two books together.   

These two stories – Farnsworth and Brown – are like swamp creatures crawling out of the priordial soup of 20th century cosmology – that bubbling cauldron of novel thinking from the likes of Planck, Einstein, Bohr, Schroedinger and all the others that gave us Relativty and Quantum Mechanics. 

For example: You might be surprised to learn that Albert Einstein did not win his Nobel Prize in 1921 for either his Theories of Relativey or E=mc2.  No, Einstein won his Nobel for the first paper he published in 1905 on the Photoelectric Effect.  

You’ll be hearing a lot about the bomb and E=mc2  in a few weeks when the big feature film Oppenheimer is released.  In the meantime, think about this: 

E=mc2 gave us the atomic bomb, but the Photoelectric Effect gave us television and every video screen on the planet (including the one you are looking at now). 

Both came out of the New Cosmology of the 20th Century.  

Now I have two books in circulation.  They both draw from that well. 

And now, this: Last month Amazon put more money in my bank account than I have ever earned from something I created and put into the world⁠.2

At the ripe age of 72, I am actually earning a living (well, subsidizing my retirement) as an author.  I’m not certain yet that the model is sustainable, but I’ve been learning how to run ads on Amazon and the results are quite encouraging.  

Who’da thunk⁠3?  

In addition to the targeted advertising I’ve been doing on Amazon (thanks again, Holly Butler), I have also been interviewed for a couple of podcasts in the past few weeks, and each conversation has given me an opportunity to articulate some of the not-yet-fully-formed things I’ve been thinking about since I went back down the rabbit hole last year.  

You can read all about that in “A Tale of Two Biographies, Part 2.   

Or you could watch the trailer for Oppenheimer:

CYA at the bijou… and bring plenty of popcorn, it’s long one!


1 Isn’t it curious that the Farnsworth book was published the last time I got fired from a job – when Gaylord took out to the woodshed and put it out of their misery?

2 not withstanding – that was mostly an aid to others putting their creative  work into the world.

3 Certainly not my ex-wife.

Hey Mister, That’s Me…

…up on the jukebox*!

My last post here was a couple of weeks ago after I learned that the Mysterious Universe podcast had been talking about my new book, The Man Who Mastered Gravity. 

I contacted the host/producers of Mysterious Universe, and we spent more than two hours talking about the Townsend Brown biography and my earlier (recently re-released) bio of Philo T. Farnsworth, The Boy Who Invented Television.  This was really the first opportunity I’ve had to talk about how the two stories dovetail to suggest a single story of forbidden science (fusion and gravity control) and the veil of mysteries surrounding both men.

Here are links if you listen via Apple Podcasts:

Paul Schatzkin joins us in this episode to explore his remarkable research on the obscure historical figures of Philo T. Farnsworth and Thomas Townsend Brown. We delve deeply into the narratives of these men, who pioneered technologies that revolutionized the world, while also contemplating some of the unrevealed technological advancements. Did Farnsworth unlock the enigma of fusion energy? Was Brown connected to a clandestine, highly advanced group?

..or here if you listen to podcasts on Spotify:

I am rather surprised and delighted that both books are starting to sell. It’s not huge numbers by any stretch, but I’ve been learning how to run ads on Amazon and get them to show up when users are searching related titles.  I’m also working on tying my books into the release of the expected-to-be-a-blockbuster feature Oppenheimer when it comes out this summer:


I have been thinking a lot about what ties all these stories together: that all the science involved begins with Einstein in 1905.

Townsend Brown was born in 1905, Philo Farnsworth in 1906.  So both men were “relativity natives.” Like kids today who grew up with computers and smartphones and are considered ‘digital natives’ – these men who were born in the first decade of the 20th century never knew a world where relativity and its related discoveries didn’t exist.

At the very least, the breakthrough theories that led to the atomic bomb also led to electronic video – yes, the the screen you’re looking at now.   Even though video is by far the more common and useful technology (lemme check… nope, no a-bomb in my pocket), that connection is largely lost to history. That is mostly because  corporate greed and public relations swept Philo Farnsworth under the rug of history after the 1940s.

And Townsend Brown?  Who the hell knows what happened there.  I’ve been on that story for twenty years now and still have more questions than answers.

You can get a better idea what I’m driving at here:

Television: The Theory of Relativity in Our Living Rooms

Such are the things I think about…


*And in case you don’t recognize the song, Hey Mister, That’s Me Up On The Jukebox, listen to James Taylor from the album Mud Slide Slim (from 1971 –back when he, like me, still had hair:

Apollo 11 +50:
Please Remember This Man, Too

Cut to the chase: Follow this link to Chapter 20: Tranquility Base at


On Tuesday, July 16, 2019, the world will begin commemorating the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11, that improbable mission that culminated four days later with Neil Armstrong’s historic “giant leap for mankind.”

In recent weeks, there have already been recollections of the thousands – maybe hundreds of thousands – of men and women all over America who made countless individual contributions to the most ambitious project of the 20th Century.

But amid all the clamor and celebration, one pivotal name will likely be ignored, as it has been for most of the past 80 years.

That name is Philo T. Farnsworth. All he did was invent the damn television.

Without his seminal contributions in the 1920s and 30s, we might have had to just listen to the moon landing on the radio. Instead, half-a-billion people watched it all unfold in real time.

The outline of the Farnsworth story goes like this:

  • Farnsworth was 14 years old in the summer of 1921 when he first dreamed of transmitting moving pictures, one line at a time, on a magnetically deflected beam of electrons from the bottom of one vacuum bottle to the bottom of another;
  • In the winter of 1922, he drew a sketch of his idea for his high school science teacher in Rigby, Idaho. Arguably, every video screen on the planet – including the one you are looking at now can trace its origins to that sketch;
  • In 1926 – After sitting on the idea for four years Farnsworth was set up in a laboratory in San Francisco with sufficient “venture capital” to begin experimenting with his ideas and fabricating the first television tubes;
  • On September 7, 1927, with his wife and a handful of colleagues at his side, Farnsworth successfully transmitted the image of a rotating line from his “Image Dissector” tube to cathode ray tube receiver in an adjoining room. If you need a date when television actually arrived on the planet, that’s a date. It should be in the annals of human evolution along with Apollo 11’s touchdown on July 20, 1969,
  • In the summer of 1930, Farnsworth was granted the seminal patents for the art that made fully electronic television possible. His patents became the technical cornerstone of a new industry.
  • He fought through the 1930s with David Sarnoff and the Radio Corporation of America over the ownership of those patents;
  • In 1939, RCA capitulated, accepting a license and making Farnsworth the first inventor ever paid patent royalties by RCA;
  • As his invention spread across the land in the late 1940s and 50s, Farnsworth went on to other pursuits: most notably, a nuclear fusion process. Prototype devices were tested in the 1960s. 50 years later, nobody with knowledge of the field can say categorically whether or not the Farnsworth Fusor showed the way toward a clean, safe, and essentially limitless supply of energy from the same reaction that powers the sun and stars;
  • By the time he appeared as a mystery guest on the TeeVee quiz show “I’ve Got A Secret” in 1957, none or the panelists recognized or knew the name whose invention had made their jobs possible.

All of this is recounted in my Farnsworth biography, The Boy Who Invented Television: A Tale of Inspiration, Persistence, and Quiet Passion (Amazon),

The last part of this tale – and Farnsworth’s own experience with Apollo 11 – has been retold in the final chapter of the book, which I have posted to in time for the 50th anniversary of the first lunar landing.

Please follow this link to read that chapter and follow some additional links to web-stuff about the Philo T. Farnsworth, whose forgotten genius is rekindled every time we look at a video screen.

Like you are doing right fucking NOW.


The Future’s So Bright…

… we really are going to need shades…

Imagine being dropped into the middle of an episode of “The Big Bang Theory.” Then imagine taking LSD. Then imagine that the episode runs for like 12 or 14 hours…

Now you’ve got some idea what this past Saturday was like for me…

The occasion was the 26th annual gathering of HEAS – The High Energy Amateur Science group – a loose-nit gang of high voltage, radiation, and fringe science enthusiasts from all over the country who gather at the home and lab of Richard Hull in Richmond Virginia to talk gizmos.

This was my fourth or fifth time attending this event, but even so I felt woefully “out of my league.” I attended because this is the best chance I have every year to visit with the people who inhabit – the site I started back in 1998 to foster discussion among people who are interested in Philo T. Farnsworth’s approach to nuclear fusion.

I felt out of place, but there I was…

I think the tone of the weekend was set early on, when I was chatting with an 18 year old from Seattle named Noah Hoppis, who pulled a small – wait for it – geiger counter! out of his pocket. He proceeded to explain how it works, how he got it, what he does with it, etc.

Noah was there with an older friend of his family, a woman named Linda who lives in the area and was providing transportation for the weekend. I watched as Linda’s eyes glazed over, and at one point she said, “I understand all the individual words, but once he starts stringing them together…. he loses me.”

Which is pretty much how I felt the entire day.

I am at best marginally conversant in these questions of advanced science and physics. Remember, I’m the guy who basically got flunked out of physics in high-school because I was a pain in the ass for the teacher. That was in the 11th grade, and I spent the semester in the principals office pulling wires out of an early kind of computer circuit board. The symbolism is pretty rich…

Despite my failure in any kind of academic scientific pursuit, I have some capacity for staying tuned in long enough to get a sense of the big picture, and maybe even some talent for distilliing the Broad Concepts into language that the average reader can comprehend. I’ve done it in two books, and occasionally somebody will tell me “you said that pretty clearly” or words to that effect. I smile and think to myself, “fooled ‘em again…”

So I spent the first two hours being a million miles – light years? – out of my comfort zone… thinking, “I have no business being here.”

After a few hours of that, I finally settled down and got my camera out and started taking some pictures.

First, here is Richard Hull himself, as his fusor runs on the apparatus around him. Just over his left shoulder is the fusion chamber itself, and over his right shoulder is the video image of the actual “star in a a jar” reaction inside that chamber:


Now, of course, the reaction that Richard has created is pretty “low yield.” 1-2 million neutrons emitted per second may sound like a lot, but that level is safe to be in the same room with. Exponentially, that yield is expressed as 1x10E6 (1 times ten-to-the-sixth) “Breakeven” for a system like this is predicted to occur somewhere between 10E12 and 10E14. Let me do the math: that would be somewhere between 10 and 100 TRILLION neutrons per second. We ain’t there yet.

But fear not. Here’s my favorite single photo of the weekend:


This is Scott Moroch and Jack Rosky, two students at a high school in Wayne New Jersey who are building – yes – their ow nuclear fusion reactor. What Scott is holding in his hand is a model of the fusion chamber they plan to build that they rendered in a 3D printer. The model is plastic, the real thing will be stainless steel (and considerably larger). Now THAT’s using new technology to create new technology…

Finally, my favorite demonstration of the weekend:


….where in Robert Tubbs looks on and assists as Dr. Kevin Dunn from the Hampton-Sidney College in Virginia demonstrates a form of “Caveman Chemistry” – namely a prehistoric chemical process called “fire.”

Conducted in the presence of the Fusor, it’s an intriguing juxtaposition of “Fire Version One” with “Fire Version 2.” Kevin made the point that “civilization” essentially begins with the discovery and control of “Fire v1.0” What becomes of “civilization” if/when we finally control “Fire v2.0”?

And, not surprisingly, it is no easy feat to make fire from two pieces of wood. It takes some coordination to rapidly and repeatedly pull the bow back and forth to spin the spindle while pressing the spindle down against the second piece of wood. It takes a bit of practice and perseverance to get the hang of it.

Watching these young guys try their hand at making fire – and knowing that they would go home to resume their efforts to build and operate a fusion reactor, I came up with this new rule: You’re not aloud to make “nuclear fire” until you have demonstrated that you are capable of making “carbon fire.”

You know, first things first…


Bezos, Thiel, Allen and Musk: You’re Going To Need A Bigger Boat

Captains of Industry, in search of a Bigger Boat

As I was getting ready to spend this past weekend with “the science nerds” in Richmond VA, I read this article in

America has six private-sector fusion projects underway, according to a new report by the research firm Third Way. PayPal co-founder and Silicon Valley investor Peter Thiel has backed Helion Energy of Redmond, Wash.  Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen has put money behind Tri ­Alpha Energy in Irvine, Calif., which has reportedly raised $140 million. And Bezos Expeditions, the investment fund of Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, is backing a Vancouver company called General Fusion, which so far has raised $94 million.

…which set me to thinking about my own experience with the subject of “fusion,” and I posted this reply to

Bezos, Thiel, Allen and Musk:
You’re Going To Need A Bigger Boat

Point being, not so much that they need a “bigger” boat – I think those guys are already starting to grasp that – but that they may have already missed the boat that was carrying the cargo for which they seek.

I know, slightly “off topic” from my usual fare, but that’s what’s occupying my imagination this week…