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Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Thirst for Power


October 1856 Thirst for Power, Scientific American: “Most of our manufacturing towns and villages are indebted for their rise to water power. They are built on rivers and creeks where there are falls of water for driving machinery. It has now become a serious question with many manufacturers, using water power, that their supply of water is becoming more unstable every year, as the forests are cleared off. Many streams once flowing with power for the miller are now only water-worn channels. But manufactures have not decreased in our country, thanks to the power of steam. With a plentiful supply of fuel (coal), steam forms a constant trusty power for driving machinery, and a steam factory can be erected independent of rare natural localities, like water-falls. Steam factories can be conducted in or near cities and commercial marts.”


October 1956 Wasted Radiation, Scientific American: “At present, nuclear power offers the most promising alternative to fossil fuels. However, progress in this field so far scarcely touches the heart of the problem. We speak of nuclear ‘power,’ but what we are really working on is nuclear heat. We are proposing to hook up the nuclear reactor to the steam turbine, an only modestly efficient invention of the 19th century, and to throw away three quarters of the energy of the nuclear reaction. It seems improvident to waste precious nuclear fuel in this fashion. Clearly the next step in power generation must be the elimination of the steam cycle and the direct conversion of radiation to electricity.”


    Posted by on Wednesday, September 13, 2006 at 12:15 AM in Economics, Miscellaneous | Permalink  TrackBack (0)  Comments (13)


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