“The Steam Engine Has Done Much More for Science than Science Has Done for the Steam Engine”

(p. 67) The great scientist and engineer William Thomson, Lord Kelvin, made his reputation on discoveries in basic physics. electricity, and thermodynamics, but he may be remembered just as well for his talent for aphorism. Among the best known of Kelvin’s quotations is the assertion that “all science is either physics or stamp collecting (while one probably best forgotten is the confident “heavier-than-air flying machines are impossible”). But the most relevant for a history of the Industrial Revolution is this: “the steam engine has done much more for science than science has done for the steam engine.”

Source:
Rosen, William. The Most Powerful Idea in the World: A Story of Steam, Industry, and Invention. New York: Random House, 2010.

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