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The Most Powerful Idea in the World: A Story of Steam, Industry, and Inventionby William Rosen
Synopses & Reviews
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 Revolutionwould cause the line to shoot straight up, beginning an almost uninterrupted march of progress.
In The Most Powerful Idea in the World, William Rosentells 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 madeeighteenth-century Britain such fertile soil for inventors? Rosen'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 fromtheir ideas.
The result was a period of frantic innovation revolving particularly around the promise of steam power. Rosen traces the steam engine's history fromits 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 ofsuch 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 anation 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 ofscience. The Most Powerful Idea in the World will appeal to readers fascinated with history, science, and the hows and whys of innovationitself.
"From the Hardcover edition."
About the Author
William Rosen, the author of the award-winning history Justinian’s Flea: Plague, Empire, and the Birth of Europe, was an editor and publisher at Macmillan, Simon & Schuster, and the Free Press for nearly twenty-five years. He lives in Princeton, New Jersey.
From the Hardcover edition.
Table of Contents
Rocket — Changes in the atmosphere — A great company of men — The first and true inventor — A very great quantity of heat — Science in his hands — The whole thing was arranged in my mind — Master of them all — A field that is endless — Quite splendid with a file — To give England the power of cotton — Wealth of nations — Strong steam — The fuel of interest.
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