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Energies:An Illustrated Guide to the Biosphere and Civilization

Cover Image Copyright Year: 1998
Author(s): Vaclav Smil
Publisher: MIT Press
Content Type : Books & eBooks
Topics: Power, Energy, & Industry Applications
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Abstract

Energy is the only universal currency. One of its many forms must be transformed into another in order for stars to shine, planets to rotate, living things to grow, and civilizations to evolve. Recognition of this universality was one of the great achievements of nineteenth-century science, yet even today there is little literature that tries to view the world broadly through the prism of energy.In this highly original book, ecologist Vaclav Smil takes the principle of universality seriously, presenting a comprehensive and integrated survey of all the forms of energy that shape our world, from the sun to the human body, from bread to microchips. Written in a scientifically sophisticated yet accessible style, Energies consists of eighty-two short essays organized under six headings: Sun and Earth, Plants and Animals, People and Food, Preindustrial Societies, Fossil-Fueled Civilization, and Motion and Information. Each essay explains the science of the energy form as well as its implications for the functioning of the universe, life, or human society. Cross-links and summary diagrams allow easy comparisons among the various levels and flows of energy.

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      Front Matter

      Vaclav Smil Page(s): i - xviii
      Copyright Year: 1998

      MIT Press eBook Chapters

      This chapter contains sections titled: Half Title, Also by Vaclav Smil, Title, Copyright, Dedications, Contents, Acknowledgments, Energy's Unique Allure: An Unorthodox Look, An Overview Of Concepts And Units View full abstract»

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      Sun and Earth

      Vaclav Smil Page(s): 1 - 35
      Copyright Year: 1998

      MIT Press eBook Chapters

      This chapter contains sections titled: Sun, Solar Radiation, Atmosphere, Planet Earth, Winds, Rains, Oceans, Rivers, Earth's Heat, Geotectonics, Earthquakes, Volcanoes, Denudation, Space Encounters View full abstract»

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      Plants and Animals

      Vaclav Smil Page(s): 37 - 78
      Copyright Year: 1998

      MIT Press eBook Chapters

      This chapter contains sections titled: Adenosine Triphosphate, Archaea and Bacteria, Photosynthesis, C3 and C4 Plants, Phytoplankton, Forests, Grasslands, Heterotrophic Metabolism, Reproduction, Growth, Ectotherms and Endotherms, Food Chains, Herbivores, Carnivores, Swimming, Running and Jumping, Flying View full abstract»

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      People and Food

      Vaclav Smil Page(s): 79 - 104
      Copyright Year: 1998

      MIT Press eBook Chapters

      This chapter contains sections titled: Basal Metabolism, Thermoregulation, Pregnancy and Lactation, Human Growth, Walking and Running, Labor and Leisure, Grains, Bread, Lipids and Meat, Milk, Ethanol View full abstract»

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      Preindustrial Societies

      Vaclav Smil Page(s): 105 - 131
      Copyright Year: 1998

      MIT Press eBook Chapters

      This chapter contains sections titled: Hunters and Gatherers, Shifting Cultivation, Traditional Agricultures, Cattle, Horses, Wood, Charcoal, and Straw, Waterwheels, Windmills, Copper, Iron, and Steel, Gunpowder, Sailships View full abstract»

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      Fossil-Fueled Civilization

      Vaclav Smil Page(s): 133 - 173
      Copyright Year: 1998

      MIT Press eBook Chapters

      This chapter contains sections titled: Fossil Fuels and Electricity, Coals, Crude Oils, Natural Gases, Steam Engines, Steam Turbines, Water Turbines, Fission Reactors, Transmission, Electric Motors, Lights, Internal Combustion Engines, Gas Turbines, Blast Furnaces, Aluminum, Nitrogen, Nuclear Weapons View full abstract»

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      Transportation and Information

      Vaclav Smil Page(s): 175 - 200
      Copyright Year: 1998

      MIT Press eBook Chapters

      This chapter contains sections titled: Trains, Ships, Bicycles, Cars, Airplanes, Rockets, Pipelines, Tankers, Telephones, Radio and Television, Computers and Microchips View full abstract»

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      Further Reading

      Vaclav Smil Page(s): 201 - 207
      Copyright Year: 1998

      MIT Press eBook Chapters

      Energy is the only universal currency. One of its many forms must be transformed into another in order for stars to shine, planets to rotate, living things to grow, and civilizations to evolve. Recognition of this universality was one of the great achievements of nineteenth-century science, yet even today there is little literature that tries to view the world broadly through the prism of energy.In this highly original book, ecologist Vaclav Smil takes the principle of universality seriously, presenting a comprehensive and integrated survey of all the forms of energy that shape our world, from the sun to the human body, from bread to microchips. Written in a scientifically sophisticated yet accessible style, Energies consists of eighty-two short essays organized under six headings: Sun and Earth, Plants and Animals, People and Food, Preindustrial Societies, Fossil-Fueled Civilization, and Motion and Information. Each essay explains the science of the energy form as well as its implications for the functioning of the universe, life, or human society. Cross-links and summary diagrams allow easy comparisons among the various levels and flows of energy. View full abstract»

    • Full text access may be available. Click article title to sign in or learn about subscription options.

      Index

      Vaclav Smil Page(s): 208 - 210
      Copyright Year: 1998

      MIT Press eBook Chapters

      Energy is the only universal currency. One of its many forms must be transformed into another in order for stars to shine, planets to rotate, living things to grow, and civilizations to evolve. Recognition of this universality was one of the great achievements of nineteenth-century science, yet even today there is little literature that tries to view the world broadly through the prism of energy.In this highly original book, ecologist Vaclav Smil takes the principle of universality seriously, presenting a comprehensive and integrated survey of all the forms of energy that shape our world, from the sun to the human body, from bread to microchips. Written in a scientifically sophisticated yet accessible style, Energies consists of eighty-two short essays organized under six headings: Sun and Earth, Plants and Animals, People and Food, Preindustrial Societies, Fossil-Fueled Civilization, and Motion and Information. Each essay explains the science of the energy form as well as its implications for the functioning of the universe, life, or human society. Cross-links and summary diagrams allow easy comparisons among the various levels and flows of energy. View full abstract»