Most Powerful Idea in the World A Story of Steam, Industry, and Invention

ISBN-10: 1400067057
ISBN-13: 9781400067053
Edition: 2010
Authors: William Rosen
List price: $34.00 Buy it from $3.00
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Description: If all measures of human advancement in the last hundred centuries were plotted on a graph, they would show an almost perfectly flat line-until the eighteenth century, when the Industrial Revolution would cause the line to shoot straight up,  More...

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Book details

List price: $34.00
Copyright year: 2010
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 6/1/2010
Binding: Hardcover
Pages: 400
Size: 6.75" wide x 9.75" long x 1.25" tall
Weight: 1.540
Language: English

If all measures of human advancement in the last hundred centuries were plotted on a graph, they would show an almost perfectly flat line-until the eighteenth century, when the Industrial Revolution would cause the line to shoot straight up, beginning an almost uninterrupted march of progress. InThe Most Powerful Idea in the World, William Rosen tells the story of the men responsible for the Industrial Revolution and the machine that drove it-the steam engine. In the process he tackles the question that has obsessed historians ever since: What made eighteenth-century Britain such fertile soil for inventors? Rosenrs"s answer focuses on a simple notion that had become enshrined in British law the century before: that people had the right to own and profit from their ideas. The result was a period of frantic innovation revolving particularly around the promise of steam power. Rosen traces the steam enginers"s history from its early days as a clumsy but sturdy machine, to its coming-of-age driving the wheels of mills and factories, to its maturity as a transporter for people and freight by rail and by sea. Along the way we enter the minds of such inventors as Thomas Newcomen and James Watt, scientists including Robert Boyle and Joseph Black, and philosophers John Locke and Adam Smith-all of whose insights, tenacity, and ideas transformed first a nation and then the world. William Rosen is a masterly storyteller with a keen eye for the "aha!" moments of invention and a gift for clear and entertaining explanations of science.The Most Powerful Idea in the Worldwill appeal to readers fascinated with history, science, and the hows and whys of innovation itself.

List of Illustrations
Prologue
Rocket: concerning ten thousand years, a hundred lineages, and two revolutionsxiii
Changes in the Atmosphere
concerning how a toy built in Alexandria failed to inspire, and how a glass tube made in Italy succeeded
the spectacle of two German hemispheres attached to sixteen German horses
and the critical importance of nothing at all
A Great Company of Man
concerning the many uses of a piston
how the world's first scientific society was founded at a college with no students
and the inspirational value of armories, Nonconformist preachers, incomplete patterns, and snifting values
The First and True Inventor
concerning a trial over the ownership of a deck of playing cards
a utopian fantasy island in the South Seas
one Statute and two Treatises
and the manner in which ideas were transformed from something one discovers to something one owns
A Very Great Quantity of Heat
concerning the discovery of fatty earth
the consequences of the deforestation of Europe
the limitations of waterpower
the experimental importance of a Scotsman's ice cube
and the search for the most valuable jewel in Britain
Science in his Hands
concerning the unpredictable consequences of sea air on iron telescopes
the power of the cube-square law
the Incorporation of Hammermen
the nature of insight
and the long-term effects of financial bubbles
The Whole thing was arranged in my Mind
concerning the surprising contents of a Ladies Diary
invention by natural selection
the Flynn Effect
neuronal avalanches
the critical distinction between invention and innovation
and the memory of a stroll on Glasgow Green
Master of them All
concerning differences among Europe's monastic brotherhoods
the unlikely contribution of the brewing of beer to the forging of iron
the geometry of crystals
and an old furnace made new
A Field that is Endless
concerning the unpredictable consequences of banking crises
a Private Act of Parliament
the folkways of Cornish miners
the difficulties in converting reciprocating into rotational motion
and the largest flour mill in the world
Quite Splendid with a File
concerning the picking of locks
the use of wood in the making of iron, and iron in the making of wood
the very great importance of very small errors
blocks of all shapes and sizes
and the tool known as "the Lord Chancellor"
To Give England the Power of Cotton
concerning the secret of silk spinning
two men named Kay
a child called Jenny
the breaking of frames
the great Cotton War between Calcutta and Lancashire
and the violent resentments of stocking knitters
Wealth of Nations
concerning Malthusian traps and escapes
spillovers and residuals
the uneasy relationship between population growth and innovation
and the limitations of Chinese emperors, Dutch bankers, and French revolutionaries
Strong Steam
concerning a Cornish Giant, and a trip up Camborne Hill
the triangular relationship between power, weight, and pressure
George Washington's flour mill and the dredging of the Schuylkill River
the long trip from Cornwall to Peru
and the most important railroad race in history
Epilogue: The Fuel of Interest
Acknowledgments
Notes
Index

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