Steam Engine Time
Steam engine time refers to the simultaneous invention of an idea or technology by different, unconnected people at a particular point in history.
A tree cannot find out, as it were, how to blossom, until comes blossom-time. A social growth cannot find out the use of steam engines, until comes steam-engine-time.
There’s an idea in the science-fiction community called steam-engine time, which is what people call it when suddenly twenty or thirty different writers produce stories about the same idea. It’s called steam-engine time. Because nobody knows why the steam engine happened when it did. Ptolemy demonstrated the mechanics of the steam engine, and there was nothing technically stopping the Romans from building big steam engines. They had little toy steam engines, and they had enough metalworking skill to build big steam tractors. It just never occurred to them to do it.
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