Should-Read: Harry Kitsikopoulos: The 18th Century Age of Steam: “Using a large amount of data on fuel consumption rates… concludes that in an era of practical tinkerers…

…British engineers did get better through a classic process of ‘learning-by-doing’, but… only… after an initial stage of adjustment…. The author notes that Britain was a very unlikely candidate for the invention of steam engines…. French and Italians… first rediscovered, translated and published the ancient texts of Hero of Alexandria on steam power; they also discovered the existence of vacuum in nature…. But Britain had two advantages: first, a divorce-obsessed king who detached the island from the Catholic dogma and its alliance with the Cartesian epistemological paradigm, both denying the existence of vacuum…. Lay landlords… [were] far more keen on solving the water drainage problem plaguing the mining industry in its drive to exploit mineral wealth. Britain was also fortunate in… [that] it was relatively backward in terms of mining technology!… Germany and Liège used a technology that resolved the drainage problem, Britain failed to imitate them, hence forcing itself to seek alternative solutions, thereby leading to the invention of the steam engine…