Masterworks of Technology: The Story of Creative Engineering, Architecture, and Design

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9781591022435: Masterworks of Technology: The Story of Creative Engineering, Architecture, and Design
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In this absorbing exploration of technological creativity throughout the ages, E. E. Lewis, professor of mechanical engineering at Northwestern University, eloquently tells the story of how science and engineering which had little in common until a few hundred years ago came together to create the technological world of the 21st century.

Today s technology is the product of a fascinating synergy of science s search for comprehension of the material universe and engineering s drive to build things and make them work. In the 20th century this synergy achieved many unprecedented successes, the most spectacular of which is arguably the first moon landing of the Apollo program. "Rocket science," now symbolic of humanity s most complex technological endeavors, is the culmination of centuries of achievements by architects of pyramids and cathedrals, medieval craft guilds, and pioneering inventors and scientists from the Renaissance through the Industrial Revolution.

Melding his own personal experiences from visiting Chartres Cathedral to flying aboard a Boeing 777 with vivid historical vignettes, the author skillfully demonstrates the importance of craft tradition, scientific method, production organization, economics, and more to the creation of modern technology. The many topics that Lewis illuminates include the slow evolution of the wheelwright s craft, the background and training of the architect-engineers who undertook the construction of medieval cathedrals, the importance of patronage and venture capitalists in realizing the big ideas of past and present, the increasing use of visualization as seen in Leonardo s notebooks, Galileo s immense contribution of bringing science and engineering together, the increasing importance of basic science as the seedbed of engineering and design innovations, the challenge of attempting unprecedented feats while minimizing risk as exemplified by space flight, and much more.

Whether Lewis is discussing the distribution of weight along flying buttresses, the challenges faced by Morse in engineering the telegraph, or the Apollo program s monumental team effort, the author s deep knowledge of and enthusiasm for his subject and his gift for engaging, lively prose make for a fascinating exploration of science and engineering through the ages.

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Synopsis:

Human beings have always tried to find ways to make life easier. In ancient times, all but a privileged few could count on slow, hard, physical labor to account for the bulk of their waking hours. Yet one of the gifts of the human race is the ability to innovate, to envision and then create the technology that allows work to be done easier, faster, more thoroughly, and more consistently. Through the centuries, engineers - our technological innovators - have not only striven to perfect older technologies built upon their experience and the growing power of science. This continually increasing technological sophistication has led from the simple wheel, designed to make transportation of goods and people easier, all the way to space travel-with a multitude of intervening steps.In "Masterworks of Technology", E E Lewis deftly traces these steps along the path to our modern technological sophistication. Lewis' many years in the engineering field have given him a clear, authoritative perspective on the highlights of technological progress through the ages.

Melding his own personal experience - from visiting the cathedral in Chartres, France, to flying aboard a Boeing 777 - with vivid historical vignettes, the author skilfully demonstrates the importance of the craft tradition, scientific method, production organisation, economics, and more to the creation of modern technology.The many topics that Lewis illuminates include pyramid construction in ancient Egypt; the fascinating evolution of the wheelwright's craft; the background and training of the architect-engineers who built Europe's medieval cathedrals; the importance of patrons and venture capitalists in realizing big ideas both past and present; the increasing use of visualization as seen in Leonardo da Vinci's notebooks; Galileo's pioneering effort to bring science and engineering together; the increasing importance of basic science as the seedbed of engineering and design innovators; the challenge of attempting unprecedented feats while minimizing risk, as exemplified by space flight; and so much more.In each chapter, the author details with infectious enthusiasm his own experiences with these diverse technologies, adding a personal touch unique to his style.Whether he is discussing the distribution of weight among flying buttresses, the challenges faced by Samuel Morse in engineering the telegraph, or the Apollo program's monumental team effort, Lewis' gift for engaging, lively prose make for a fascinating exploration of science and engineering through the ages.

His singular knowledge, evident in this culmination of a lifetime of work in the field, has resulted in a book that anyone who appreciates the beauty and complexity of brilliant tools, clever machines, and amazing structures will savor.

About the Author:

E. E. Lewis (Evanston, IL), the former chair of the Department of Mechanical Engineering, is professor of mechanical engineering at the McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science at Northwestern University. He is the author of three engineering textbooks and numerous journal articles.

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