Some thoughts

Reading Patterns of World History: Since 1750. On p789 it is asked:
Why did the industrial movement begin in Britain? Why not, say, in China in the Song or Ming period? Why in the eighteenth century? Why in such areas as textiles, iron, mining, and transport?"
The sort of answer that does not seem acceptable to a historian, but which I nonetheless think should hold some weight, is that it comes down to the contributions of key players in the industrial period. I am certainly interested in pursuing this question by looking at how the stage was set. How, so many factors came together in just the right proportion in order to create a climate where the ideas of such key players were fostered instead of neglected. But I cannot draw my attention away from those key players and the way they lived. Perhaps my early foray with the history of science has led me to this, because there it seems very plausible indeed that breakthroughs in science, or natural philosophy as it was called at the time, was almost like a torch being handed from player to player: from Copernicus to Galileo, from Maxwell to Einstein, etc.

To this end it would be useful to read the biographies of these key players, much in the way that Einstein's indebtedness to Maxwell can be gleaned from a close study of his life.

A good place to start would be learning more about James Watt and his endeavors to perfect the steam engine around 1765.
Written on July 8, 2013