Vaclav Smil

Distinguished Professor Emeritus

Just Published: Still the Iron Age: Iron and Steel in the Modern World

Although the last two generations have seen an enormous amount of attention paid to advances in electronics, the fact remains that high-income, high-energy societies could thrive without microchips, etc., but, by contrast, could not exist without steel. Because of the importance of this material to contemporary civilization, a comprehensive resource is needed for metallurgists, non-metallurgists, […]

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New Book Translations

Chinese translation of Making the Modern World (Publishing House of Electronics Industry, Beijing) was published in July 2015. Books to appear in late 2015 and 2016: Energy Myths and Realitiesand Harvesting the Biosphere in Chinese (by Hubei Science and Publishing Press), Energy at the Crossroads in Korean (by Changbi Publishers) and Making the Modern World […]

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Annual JPMorgan Energy Issue

Michael Cembalest, Chairman of Market and Investment Strategy at J.P. Morgan, Published Our Annual Energy Reality Check entitled Brave New World.

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Just Published: Natural Gas: Fuel for the 21st Century

Natural gas is the world s cleanest fossil fuel; it generates less air pollution and releases less CO2 per unit of useful energy than liquid fuels or coals. With its vast supplies of conventional resources and nonconventional stores, the extension of long-distance gas pipelines and the recent expansion of liquefied natural gas trade, a truly […]

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Vaclav Smil receives 2015 OPEC Award for Research

In 2004, the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) established the OPEC Award for Research to honour distinguished individuals who have made outstanding contribution to the petroleum industry and oil-related issues. In particular, the OPEC Award for Research is intended to honour those who have shown dedication to research and analysis of oil-related issues; […]

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Just published – Power Density: A Key to Understanding Energy Sources and Uses

In this book, Vaclav Smil argues that power density is a key determinant of the nature and dynamics of energy systems. Any understanding of complex energy systems must rely on quantitative measures of many fundamental variables. Power density — the rate of energy flux per unit of area — is an important but largely overlooked […]

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Monthly essays for IEEE Spectrum

In January 2015 I began to write monthly essays for the IEEE Spectrum, on of the world’s leading engineering and science periodicals published by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers in New York. The essays are published under the general heading Numbers Don’t Lie and their goal is to offer some new looks at […]

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Michael Cembalest, Chairman of Market and Investment Strategy at J.P. Morgan, Published Our Annual Energy Reality Check

For the last few years, we have written an annual piece on energy. In doing so, we have worked with Vaclav Smil from the University of Manitoba (see biography below). In a recent article in Scientific American, Vaclav provided a rough road map for what the arc of renewable energy use might look like. The […]

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Bill Gates reviews Making the Modern World: Materials and Dematerialization

The car I drive to work is made of around 2,600 pounds of steel, 800 pounds of plastic, and 400 pounds of light metal alloys. The trip from my house to the office is roughly four miles long, all surface streets, which means I travel over some 15,000 tons of concrete each morning. Once I’m at the […]

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Bill Gates talks to Quartz on Poverty, GMOs, Microsoft and Vaclav Smil’s Latest Books

Vaclav Smil keeps turning out amazing books. Making the Modern World, I just finished, and it’s pretty fantastic. It’s about this idea that we are still using more materials per person, even as advanced economies, though people talk about the dematerialization of steel, the amount of concrete, and other minerals. It’s classic Smil: really explaining how […]

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