I love this book, which is by Vaclav Smil, Bill Gates’s favorite author.
Assorted initial thoughts:
+Global trade rides atop the diesel engine. It is both literally and literally the engine behind globalization.
+The turbojet engine is absolutely amazing and there is nothing on the horizon that is at all close to replacing it. Chemical energy is so much lighter than electrical and nuclear energy that it seems like there’s no better source of energy in the air (though perhaps you could beam energy to a plane with microwave lasers from the ground? hmm). And given that you use chemical energy in a thermodynamic engine, it’s hard to think of anything that can do better than the turbojet. I would not be at all surprised if humans were still using turbojet jet engines in 10,000 years, just as they will still probably be using the wheel.
+I’ll get some good plots that show efficiency and other metrics over time. I haven’t illegally scanned them from my reference books yet.