I heard interviewer extraordinaire, Krys Boyd, on KERA (NPR – 90.1) interview William Rosen, the author of The Most Powerful Idea in the World: A Story of Steam, Industry, and Invention. (you will be able to track down the podcast here – it aired on July 26, 2010).
Here’s the Description:
What does the world owe to steam? We’ll look back this hour at the marvelous invention that started the modern era with William Rosen.
The interview described the catalyst that led to so many leaps forward made since the arrival of the steam engine, (after literally millennia of stagnation), with a discussion of education, the 10,000 hour rule, the 14 year life span for the first patents, and so much more.
Here are some lines about the book from its Amazon page:
Rosen modulates his mechanical zeal with contexts underscoring that Thomas Newcomen and James Watt did not operate in a social vacuum. Fixing on patents as one prerequisite to their inventions, Rosen describes intellectual property’s English legal and philosophical origins as he segues to Newcomen’s and Watt’s backgrounds. A degree of social mobility in eighteenth-century Britain enabled their rise, but it was the specific economic situations in mining and textiles to which they responded that ensured it. These business matters provide Rosen with storytelling opportunities that feature capital investors, scientists studying heat, and over time, innovators who improved the steam engine from a stationary to a mobile power source: Rocket, the famous railroad engine built in 1829.
It was a really fascinating interview, and now I have another volume to add to “if only I had time to read everything” list.
So many books – so little time.