Developed nations today are so dependent on fossil fuels that it is easy to forget that energy sources have changed throughout history. We first started by burning wood and other organic matter, then added in whale oil. During the Industrial Revolution, we embraced coal and petroleum in a big way. Fossil fuels now sustain much of the global economy, but at a high cost to the environment and climate. The push is on to find energy sources less harmful to life on Earth.

An exhibition, "Discoveries 2010: Energy," opened May 20 on the island of Mainau in Germany to chart the course of human energy use and showcase future methods for sustainable energy production. The show is part of "Science Year 2010—The Future of Energy," initiated by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research and jointly organized by the Council for the Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings.

View a side show of images from Discoveries 2010: Energy