Steam Power: Still Moving Us, Even in the 21st Century

It's in our power plants, underneath New York City and in our buffets. In our modern world, steam is still very much relevant.

RELATED TAGS: PHYSICS, ENERGY
SteamPowerCity

We live in a civilization powered by steam. Most of us don’t notice its role in keeping the lights on, but steam power is practically ubiquitous. No matter what fuel a power plant uses — coal, natural gas, oil, uranium — it serves a single purpose: boil water to make high-pressure steam that spins turbine blades, which generate electricity. Even the most advanced power plant ever conceived — a massive experimental nuclear fusion project now under construction in France — is essentially just an exceedingly complex boiler.

Nowhere else is our modern dependence on (and possible uses of) the hot stuff better exemplified than New York, a city literally built on steam.

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