Sep 6, 2010

Steam-Driven Dreams

(NYTBR) Steam is cool. Or rather, hot: the technology that helped usher in the Industrial Revolution shows up these days in neo-nostalgic steampunk fiction, design and fashion. It’s not just affection for leather and brass that drives the fascination; harnessing the power of steam broke humans out of what William Rosen calls the “Malthusian trap” that had kept mankind ever on the brink of famine and collapse. His book, “The Most Powerful Idea in the World: A Story of Steam, Industry, and Invention,” is a sneaky history — ostensibly about the origins of the steam engine, though actually about much more. Continued

Image: Steam Ship Washington (Library of Congress).