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Consuming Power

Author: David E. Nye
Publisher: MIT Press
ISBN: 9780262640381
Size: 41.85 MB
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Nye uses energy as a touchstone to examine the lives of ordinary people engaged in normal activities.

Consuming Power

Author: David E. Nye
Publisher: MIT Press
ISBN: 0262261022
Size: 40.10 MB
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How did the United States become the world's largest consumer of energy? David Nye shows that this is less a question about the development of technology than it is a question about the development of culture. In Consuming Power, Nye uses energy as a touchstone to examine the lives of ordinary people engaged in normal activities. He looks at how these activities changed as new energy systems were constructed, from colonial times to recent years. He also shows how, as Americans incorporated new machines and processes into their lives, they became ensnared in power systems that were not easily changed: they made choices about the conduct of their lives, and those choices accumulated to produce a consuming culture. Nye examines a sequence of large systems that acquired and then lost technological momentum over the course of American history, including water power, steam power, electricity, the internal-combustion engine, atomic power, and computerization. He shows how each system became part of a larger set of social constructions through its links to the home, the factory, and the city. The result is a social history of America as seen through the lens of energy consumption.

Consuming Power

Author: David E. Nye
Publisher: MIT Press
ISBN: 9780262140638
Size: 65.16 MB
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How did the United States become the world's largest consumer of energy? David Nye uses energy as a touchstone to examine--from colonial times to recent years--how ordinary people's everyday activities changed as new energy systems were constructed. The result is a social history of America as seen through the lens of energy consumption. 10 illustrations.

Made In The Usa

Author: Vaclav Smil
Publisher: MIT Press
ISBN: 0262019388
Size: 10.80 MB
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An argument that America's economy needs a strong and innovative manufacturing sector and the jobs it creates.

Energy And Civilization

Author: Vaclav Smil
Publisher: MIT Press
ISBN: 0262338319
Size: 15.76 MB
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"I wait for new Smil books the way some people wait for the next 'Star Wars' movie. In his latest book, Energy and Civilization: A History, he goes deep and broad to explain how innovations in humans' ability to turn energy into heat, light, and motion have been a driving force behind our cultural and economic progress over the past 10,000 years. -- Bill Gates, Gates Notes, Best Books of the Year Energy is the only universal currency; it is necessary for getting anything done. The conversion of energy on Earth ranges from terra-forming forces of plate tectonics to cumulative erosive effects of raindrops. Life on Earth depends on the photosynthetic conversion of solar energy into plant biomass. Humans have come to rely on many more energy flows -- ranging from fossil fuels to photovoltaic generation of electricity -- for their civilized existence. In this monumental history, Vaclav Smil provides a comprehensive account of how energy has shaped society, from pre-agricultural foraging societies through today's fossil fuel--driven civilization. Humans are the only species that can systematically harness energies outside their bodies, using the power of their intellect and an enormous variety of artifacts -- from the simplest tools to internal combustion engines and nuclear reactors. The epochal transition to fossil fuels affected everything: agriculture, industry, transportation, weapons, communication, economics, urbanization, quality of life, politics, and the environment. Smil describes humanity's energy eras in panoramic and interdisciplinary fashion, offering readers a magisterial overview. This book is an extensively updated and expanded version of Smil's Energy in World History (1994). Smil has incorporated an enormous amount of new material, reflecting the dramatic developments in energy studies over the last two decades and his own research over that time.

Electrifying America

Author: David E. Nye
Publisher: Mit Press
ISBN: 9780262640305
Size: 65.72 MB
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Explores how electricity seeped into and redefined American culture, becoming fundamental to modern life.

Why America Is Not A New Rome

Author: Vaclav Smil
Publisher: MIT Press
ISBN: 026228829X
Size: 12.61 MB
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America's post--Cold War strategic dominance and its pre-recession affluence inspired pundits to make celebratory comparisons to ancient Rome at its most powerful. Now, with America no longer perceived as invulnerable, engaged in protracted fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan, and suffering the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression, comparisons are to the bloated, decadent, ineffectual later Empire. In Why America Is Not a New Rome, Vaclav Smil looks at these comparisons in detail, going deeper than the facile analogy-making of talk shows and glossy magazine articles. He finds profound differences.Smil, a scientist and a lifelong student of Roman history, focuses on several fundamental concerns: the very meaning of empire; the actual extent and nature of Roman and American power; the role of knowledge and innovation; and demographic and economic basics--population dynamics, illness, death, wealth, and misery. America is not a latter-day Rome, Smil finds, and we need to understand this in order to look ahead without the burden of counterproductive analogies. Superficial similarities do not imply long-term political, demographic, or economic outcomes identical to Rome's.

Technology Matters

Author: David E. Nye
Publisher: MIT Press
ISBN: 0262250748
Size: 37.49 MB
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Technology matters, writes David Nye, because it is inseparable from being human. We have used tools for more than 100,000 years, and their central purpose has not always been to provide necessities. People excel at using old tools to solve new problems and at inventing new tools for more elegant solutions to old tasks. Perhaps this is because we are intimate with devices and machines from an early age -- as children, we play with technological toys: trucks, cars, stoves, telephones, model railroads, Playstations. Through these machines we imagine ourselves into a creative relationship with the world. As adults, we retain this technological playfulness with gadgets and appliances -- Blackberries, cell phones, GPS navigation systems in our cars.We use technology to shape our world, yet we think little about the choices we are making. In Technology Matters, Nye tackles ten central questions about our relationship to technology, integrating a half-century of ideas about technology into ten cogent and concise chapters, with wide-ranging historical examples from many societies. He asks: Can we define technology? Does technology shape us, or do we shape it? Is technology inevitable or unpredictable? (Why do experts often fail to get it right?)? How do historians understand it? Are we using modern technology to create cultural uniformity, or diversity? To create abundance, or an ecological crisis? To destroy jobs or create new opportunities? Should "the market" choose our technologies? Do advanced technologies make us more secure, or escalate dangers? Does ubiquitous technology expand our mental horizons, or encapsulate us in artifice?These large questions may have no final answers yet, but we need to wrestle with them -- to live them, so that we may, as Rilke puts it, "live along some distant day into the answers."

American Technological Sublime

Author: David E. Nye
Publisher: MIT Press
ISBN: 9780262640343
Size: 20.67 MB
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Technology has long played a central role in the formation of Americans' sense ofselfhood. From the first canal systems through the moon landing, Americans have, for better orworse, derived unity from the common feeling of awe inspired by large-scale applications oftechnological prowess. American Technological Sublime continues the exploration of the socialconstruction of technology that David Nye began in his award-winning book Electrifying America. HereNye examines the continuing appeal of the "technological sublime" (a term coined by Perry Miller) asa key to the nation's history, using as examples the natural sites, architectural forms, andtechnological achievements that ordinary people have valued intensely.American Technological Sublimeis a study of the politics of perception in industrial society. Arranged chronologically, itsuggests that the sublime itself has a history - that sublime experiences are emotionalconfigurations that emerge from new social and technological conditions, and that each newconfiguration to some extent undermines and displaces the older versions. After giving a shorthistory of the sublime as an aesthetic category, Nye describes the reemergence and democratizationof the concept in the early nineteenth century as an expression of the American sense ofspecialness.What has filled the American public with wonder, awe, even terror? David Nye selects theGrand Canyon, Niagara Falls, the eruption of Mt. St. Helens, the Erie Canal, the firsttranscontinental railroad, Eads Bridge, Brooklyn Bridge, the major international expositions, theHudson-Fulton Celebration of 1909, the Empire State Building, and Boulder Dam. He then looks at theatom bomb tests and the Apollo mission as examples of the increasing ambivalence of thetechnological sublime in the postwar world. The festivities surrounding the rededication of theStatue of Liberty in 1986 become a touchstone reflecting the transformation of the Americanexperience of the sublime over two centuries. Nye concludes with a vision of the modern-day"consumer sublime" as manifested in the fantasy world of Las Vegas.

When The Lights Went Out

Author: David E. Nye
Publisher: MIT Press
ISBN: 0262288338
Size: 35.18 MB
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Where were you when the lights went out? At home during a thunderstorm? During the Great Northeastern Blackout of 1965? In California when rolling blackouts hit in 2000? In 2003, when a cascading power failure left fifty million people without electricity? We often remember vividly our time in the dark. In When the Lights Went Out, David Nye views power outages in America from 1935 to the present not simply as technical failures but variously as military tactic, social disruption, crisis in the networked city, outcome of political and economic decisions, sudden encounter with sublimity, and memories enshrined in photographs. Our electrically lit-up life is so natural to us that when the lights go off, the darkness seems abnormal. Nye looks at America's development of its electrical grid, which made large-scale power failures possible and a series of blackouts from military blackouts to the "greenout" (exemplified by the new tradition of "Earth Hour"), a voluntary reduction organized by environmental organizations. Blackouts, writes Nye, are breaks in the flow of social time that reveal much about the trajectory of American history. Each time one occurs, Americans confront their essential condition -- not as isolated individuals, but as a community that increasingly binds itself together with electrical wires and signals.