Energy Book Summary - Energy Book explained in key points
Listen to the Intro

Energy summary

Vaclav Smil

A Beginner’s Guide

3.5 (124 ratings)
17 mins
Table of Contents

    Summary of 7 key ideas

    Audio & text in the Blinkist app
    Key idea 1 of 7

    The concept of energy has developed over centuries.

    Looking at the way we use the word “energy,” it’s clear that most of us aren’t entirely sure what energy actually is. For example, we say that charismatic speakers “energize the crowd,” or that we feel more energetic after rigorous training for our upcoming half-marathon.

    Yet, these are figurative at best. In fact, it’s impossible for us to have more energy after spending hours exerting ourselves. So if it’s not science or physics, what informs our conception of energy?

    In essence, when we talk about “energy,” we’re using a broad term that encompasses various types of energies. The term stems from the Greek word energeia, coined by Aristotle, which signifies motion, action or work. Today, energy is usually thought of as the capacity to do work, i.e., our ability to affect change.

    This kind of work could be as simple as sitting in a room and contemplating the cosmos. Though you may seem inert, your body is indeed working – your heart pumps blood, your stomach digests food, etc. And that takes energy.

    The first law of thermodynamics, which states that energy can neither be created nor destroyed, demonstrates that “energy” is often just an abstract concept that describes the conversion of more varied energies.

    To illustrate this, try rubbing your hands together very quickly. You’ll notice that they get warm. This isn’t because your hands have become “energized.” Rather, as you rub your hands together, kinetic energy (movement) is converted to thermal energy (heat), thus causing them to feel warm.

    Mankind – including scientists such as Joules, Watt and Einstein – has been poring over the essence of energy for centuries. Over the years, scientists have created systems to measure these seemingly mystical energies – such as the International System of Units – and have used them to gain a better understanding of how our world works.

    Energy is indeed a complex concept. Over the course of these blinks, we’ll unravel the mystery and show you the role that energy plays for all living things on our planet.

    Want to see all full key ideas from Energy?

    Key ideas in Energy

    More knowledge in less time
    Read or listen
    Read or listen
    Get the key ideas from nonfiction bestsellers in minutes, not hours.
    Find your next read
    Find your next read
    Get book lists curated by experts and personalized recommendations.
    Shortcasts New
    We’ve teamed up with podcast creators to bring you key insights from podcasts.

    What is Energy about?

    Energy (2006) offers insights into one of the most elusive concepts in the spectrum of human thought: energy. By understanding what energy is, how it has helped us get where we are today, and what dangers our reliance on certain forms of energy poses, we will be better equipped to handle the challenges faced by modern civilization.

    Who should read Energy?

    • Readers looking for the ultimate explanation of how our world works
    • Physics fans and climate change deniers
    • Anyone who is awed by the miracle of life

    About the Author

    Vaclav Smil is a professor emeritus at the University of Manitoba, and has published over 400 papers and 35 books, including Making the Modern World and Should We Eat Meat. Alongside his extensive academic career, he has worked as a consultant for several different US, EU and international institutions.

    Categories with Energy

    Books like Energy

    People ❤️ Blinkist
    Sven O.

    It's highly addictive to get core insights on personally relevant topics without repetition or triviality. Added to that the apps ability to suggest kindred interests opens up a foundation of knowledge.

    Thi Viet Quynh N.

    Great app. Good selection of book summaries you can read or listen to while commuting. Instead of scrolling through your social media news feed, this is a much better way to spend your spare time in my opinion.

    Jonathan A.

    Life changing. The concept of being able to grasp a book's main point in such a short time truly opens multiple opportunities to grow every area of your life at a faster rate.

    Renee D.

    Great app. Addicting. Perfect for wait times, morning coffee, evening before bed. Extremely well written, thorough, easy to use.

    People also liked

    Start growing with Blinkist now
    27 Million
    Downloads on all platforms
    4.7 Stars
    Average ratings on iOS and Google Play
    Of Blinkist members create a better reading habit*
    *Based on survey data from Blinkist customers
    Powerful ideas from top nonfiction

    Try Blinkist to get the key ideas from 7,000+ bestselling nonfiction titles and podcasts. Listen or read in just 15 minutes.

    Start your free trial