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Transforming the Twentieth Century: Volume 2: Technical Innovations and Their Consequences

Vaclav Smil


This book is a systematic interdisciplinary account of two epochal trends: the history of the 20th century’s technical transformation based on the unprecedented surge of innovation that took place in Europe and North America during the three pre-WWI generation (1867-1914); and the history of new fundamental inventions during the period 1914-2000. Mass consumption of fossil fuels provided the energetic foundation of this progress. New ways of making steel — the leading metal of our civilization — and new materials including plastics and silicon, opened entirely new technical possibilities. Rati ... More

Keywords: fundamental inventions, fossil fuels, steel, plastics, silicon, rationalized production, nuclear fission, gas turbines, semiconductors, computing

Bibliographic Information

Print publication date: 2006 Print ISBN-13: 9780195168754
Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2006 DOI:10.1093/0195168755.001.0001


Affiliations are at time of print publication.

Vaclav Smil, author
University of Manitoba
Author Webpage