History of Coal 5: Coal Power

 

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In past episodes, I've outlined how people used Britain's abundant and accessible coal resources to do a lot of things: heat their homes, bake bread, make beer, glass, soap, salt and finally to make iron. But all of these things use coal just as a cheap source of heat. Today we use fossil fuels to do so much more. They move us, they light our homes, they fertilize our earth, and they likely provide the electricity that is used to make these words appear on the screen, and my voice appear in your earbuds. To tell the story of how people used coal to move things, this episode will look at the development of the steam engine.

Here are some videos to get a sense of what the steam engine actually is about:

 Joseph Wright of Derby, A Philosopher Lecturing on the Orrery; see, science in the 18th century was something cool

Joseph Wright of Derby, A Philosopher Lecturing on the Orrery; see, science in the 18th century was something cool

 Wright, An Experiment On A Bird In The Air Pump, spoiler alert: bird dies; but the force of the vacuum demonstrated here would create the steam engine, and thus the fossil fuel age

Wright, An Experiment On A Bird In The Air Pump, spoiler alert: bird dies; but the force of the vacuum demonstrated here would create the steam engine, and thus the fossil fuel age

Episode 109: The Guilded Age

History of Coal 4: Iron And Coal BFF