Illinois State Library

Illinois Center for the Book

Individual Author Record

General Information

Name:  Louise B. Young  

Pen Name: None

Genre: Non-Fiction

Audience: Adult;

Born: 1919 in Springfield, Ohio

Died: May 8, 2010 in Lake Forest, Illinois

-- Louise B. Young on WorldCat --

Illinois Connection

Louise lived in Winnetka, Illinois for many years.

Biographical and Professional Information

A noted author on science and the environment, she wrote on a wide range of topics, including atmospheric science, ecology, physics, and astronomy. She was born in 1919 on a remote farm in southern Ohio. In 1936 she won a scholarship to Vassar College, where she majored in physics –the only woman in her class to do so. After graduating Phi Beta Kappa she worked for a time at the Museum of Modern Art in New York where she specialized in the work of Edward Steichen and Ansel Adams. At the start of World War II she was invited to join the Radiation Laboratory at MIT, where she was part of an elite team of scientists developing the new science of radar. In 1944 she married Hobart P. Young and moved to Winnetka Illinois, where she lived for many years. Beginning in the 1960’s she wrote a series of books that explained the basics of physics, astronomy, geology, and environmental science for lay audiences. In 1973 she published Power Over People, one of the first books to point out the potential health risks posed by high-voltage power lines due to the electromagnetic fields that they create. Other books include The Unfinished Universe, Sowing the Wind, Earth’s Aura, Exploring the Universe, and The Blue Planet. Her most recent book, Islands: Portraits of Miniature Worlds, argued that the history of island ecologies can help us understand how better to manage the global environment. She remained active into old age, publishing her last book at the age of eighty. She also fulfilled a lifelong dream when, at the age of sixty, she earned a Master’s of Science degree in Geology at the University of Chicago

Published Works Expand for more information

Titles At Your Library

Best Foot Forward,

D.Van Nostrand Company, Inc.. 1968

Power Over People
ISBN: 0195075781

Oxford University Press. 1992

For most of us, life is spent in one vast electromagnetic field. In the office we sit in front of computer terminals, at home, in front of the television. We cook our meals in microwave ovens, trim our hedges with electric shears, illuminate our houses, workplaces, and streets with incandescent and fluorescent lighting. And until only recently, the potential hazards imposed by life in the shadows of high-voltage power lines have hardly been considered.
First published in 1973, Power Over People was the first book to address the frightening potential side effects of our dependence on electrical energy. Now brought up to date with a new introduction, and including an epilogue that offers the most current studies and findings available today, this classic book is more timely than ever. Louise Young here lays bare the short-sighted, materialistic policies of the electric power industry, showing how power and the conglomerates that produce it have clearly won out over rights and safety concerns of people. She provides disturbing documentary evidence that demonstrates how long-term exposure to radiation from power lines can cause brain cancer, childhood leukemia, as well as damage to the nervous system. Through the course of the book we come to understand that what is often blindly accepted as "progress" can mean the inexorable advance of environmental destruction and the withering--rather than enhancing--of the quality of life in America.
Based on a case-study of a small, rural community in Ohio, Young shows in compelling fashion what happens when a grass-roots group of concerned citizens resists the construction of the world's largest electrical transmission towers, literally in their own backyards. Her story of their ultimate failure becomes a stinging indictment of indifferent government agencies and the lax laws that fail to protect the environment.
Lively, readable, and, at times, even shocking, this is a book for environmentally-minded and safety-conscious readers of the 1990s. Its wealth of information, its incisive analysis, and its bold confrontation of facts we can no longer afford to ignore make Power Over People a book everyone should read and reflect upon.

Blue Planet
ISBN: 0316977071

Little Brown & Co. 1983

Discusses aspects of the earth sciences, such as the magnetic field, volcanic eruptions, the Ice Age, and the formation of rocks

Sowing the Wind: Reflections on the Earth's Atmosphere
ISBN: 0130835021

Simon & Schuster. 1991

Explores the earth's vulnerability to human byproducts--acid, ozone depletion, the overproduction of flourocarbons--and elucidates the interrelatedness of the global environment

The Unfinished Universe
ISBN: 0195080394

Oxford University Press. 1993

From the dawn of humankind, men and women have looked at change--as wrought by weather, the seasons, and, most strikingly, the inexorable advance of time--as something essentially to be feared. And partially from this fear the great religions and mythologies have arisen, systems which gave meaning to the ever-changing world, and, quite often, immortality to ourselves. By the late nineteenth century, the quest for ultimate meanings became largely the province of science, and today, change still figures (on the surface, at least) as a malevolent force: most of the cosmological theories formulated in recent years predict the ultimate extinction of the world by universal entropy.
Bringing together the evidence and insights of biology and physics, of astronomy and cosmology, Louise Young offers a profoundly original and stirring vision of order, form, change, and the creative forces in the universe. Opposing the long-held beliefs of many scientists that the universe is running down and will eventually collapse upon itself, Young eloquently argues that the tendency toward increasing entropy is merely one aspect of a single process that is creating more complex, highly organized, and more efficient forms of matter all the time, and at every level--from the microscopic to the stellar.
In vivid, compelling prose, Louise Young--an award-winning writer on science and a former physicist--takes us on an unforgettable tour of the world around us, showing how even the most ordinary aspects of life and the universe display a strangely beautiful symmetry. She clearly demonstrates that creation was not simply some big-bang eons ago, but rather is an ongoing process, one in which we are both witnesses and participants. Illustrating her findings with many remarkable photographs and fascinating examples ranging from geology to animal behavior, and from oceanography to genetics, Young gracefully canvasses the themes of growth, change creativity, and the mystery of the universe in a book that is as much poetry as it is science.
Based on solid scientific knowledge, yet informed by a refreshingly philosophical sensibility, The Unfinished Universe is a book that will inspire anyone who has ever questioned their place and purpose in a world filled with uncertainty and change.

Islands: Portraits of Miniature Worlds
ISBN: 0716739666

W H Freeman & Co. 2000

Book by Louise B. Young


  • Sandburg Literacy Award

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