David Bodanis

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Futurist, Historian & Writer

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Wearing his business hat the former Shell scenario expert uses past precedents to explain the nature of innovation, looking at everything from transport and energy to technology and climate change. In a different vein, his new book examines the Ten Commandments in their true historical context. Rather than harshly imposed laws, the ten ‘devarim’ were a pioneering set of guiding principles to help a diverse community treat its members fairly.


Renaissance man David Bodanis is both historian and futurist; scientist and business advisor. He is a prize-winning author and Oxford academic specialising in geopolitical trends. He was part of Shell's respected Scenario Unit looking at potential impacts on the business of technology, social, political and economic change around the world. His books have covered everything from the history of electricity to special relativity.

David's skill lies in his ability to illustrate complex themes with compelling, insightful stories. He examines anything from transport to technology and energy, economics and climate change through the prism of historical events and breakthroughs. With information collated from over 900 companies, he looks at the strategies that allow organisations to survive, grow and innovate maintaining a business focus throughout the intellectual ideas and historical lessons.

In addition to growth and innovation, David addresses fundamental business questions. How does a company balance survival with performance? How can costs be controlled but long-term relationships with customers and staff maintained? And what does the turbulance of the global financial crisis mean for globalisation as a whole?

David has advised businesses, NGOs and governments from Microsoft to the People's Republic of China to developing the programme for the World Economic Forum at Davos. A native of Chicago now based in London, David's books include
Electric Universe on how electricity changed everything, and E=mc2: A Biography of the World’s Most Famous Equation. His most recent title, The Ten Commandments: And How They Shaped the World puts the relgious laws in a historical context. With a typical knack for seeing the real-world application of abstract ideas, David explains how, rather than the strict rules for life they are usually interpretted as, the Commandments were principles to help a diverse population live and be treated equitably.

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