Power, Speed, and Form: Engineers and the Making of the Twentieth Century

Princeton University Press
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Power, Speed, and Form is the first accessible account of the engineering behind eight breakthrough innovations that transformed American life from 1876 to 1939--the telephone, electric power, oil refining, the automobile, the airplane, radio, the long-span steel bridge, and building with reinforced concrete. Beginning with Thomas Edison's system to generate and distribute electric power, the authors explain the Bell telephone, the oil refining processes of William Burton and Eugene Houdry, Henry Ford's Model T car and the response by General Motors, the Wright brothers' airplane, radio innovations from Marconi to Armstrong, Othmar Ammann's George Washington Bridge, the reinforced concrete structures of John Eastwood and Anton Tedesko, and in the 1930s, the Chrysler Airflow car and the Douglas DC-3 airplane.

These innovations used simple numerical ideas, which the Billingtons integrate with short narrative accounts of each breakthrough--a unique and effective way to introduce engineering and how engineers think. The book shows how the best engineering exemplifies efficiency, economy and, where possible, elegance. With Power, Speed, and Form, educators, first-year engineering students, liberal arts students, and general readers now have, for the first time in one volume, an accessible and readable history of engineering achievements that were vital to America's development and that are still the foundations of modern life.

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About the author

David P. Billington is Gordon Y. S. Wu Professor of Engineering at Princeton University. His books include The Innovators; Robert Maillart: Designer, Builder, Artist; and The Tower and the Bridge (Princeton). David P. Billington Jr. holds a Ph.D. in modern history from the University of Texas and is an independent scholar.
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Additional Information

Publisher
Princeton University Press
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Published on
Aug 7, 2013
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Pages
296
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ISBN
9781400849123
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Language
English
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Genres
Science / General
Science / History
Technology & Engineering / Engineering (General)
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Available on Android devices
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Eligible for Family Library

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Genetic engineering, nanotechnology, astrophysics, particle physics: We live in an engineered world, one where the distinctions between science and engineering, technology and research, are fast disappearing. This book shows how, at the dawn of the twenty-first century, the goals of natural scientists--to discover what was not known--and that of engineers--to create what did not exist--are undergoing an unprecedented convergence.

Sunny Y. Auyang ranges widely in demonstrating that engineering today is not only a collaborator with science but its equal. In concise accounts of the emergence of industrial laboratories and chemical and electrical engineering, and in whirlwind histories of the machine tools and automobile industries and the rise of nuclear energy and information technology, her book presents a broad picture of modern engineering: its history, structure, technological achievements, and social responsibilities; its relation to natural science, business administration, and public policies. Auyang uses case studies such as the development of the F-117A Nighthawk and Boeing 777 aircraft, as well as the experiences of engineer-scientists such as Oliver Heaviside, engineer-entrepreneurs such as Henry Ford and Bill Gates, and engineer-managers such as Alfred Sloan and Jack Welch to give readers a clear sense of engineering's essential role in the future of scientific research.



Table of Contents:

Preface

1. Introduction

2 . Technology Takes Off
2.1 From Practical Art to Technology
2.2 Construction Becomes Mathematical
2.3 Experimenting with Machines
2.4 Science and Chemical Industries
2.5 Power and Communication

3. Engineering for Information
3.1 From Microelectronics to Nanotechnology
3.2 Computer Hardware and Software
3.3 Wireless, Satellites, and the Internet

4. Engineering in Society
4.1 Social Ascent and Images of Engineers
4.2 Partnership in Research and Development
4.3 Contributions to Sectors of the Economy

5. Innovation by Design
5.1 Inventive Thinking in Negative Feedback
5.2 Design Processes in Systems Engineering
5.3 “Working Together� in Aircraft Development
5.4 From Onboard Computers to Door Hinges

6. Sciences of Useful Systems
6.1 Mathematics in Engineering and Science
6.2 Information and Control Theories
6.3 Wind Tunnels and Internet Simulation
6.4 Integrative Materials Engineering
6.5 Biological Engineering Frontiers

7. Leaders Who Are Engineers
7.1 Business Leaders in the Car Industry
7.2 Public Policies and Nuclear Power
7.3 Managing Technological Risks

Appendix A. Statistical Profiles of Engineers
Appendix B. U.S. Research and Development
Notes
Index



I am impressed by the scope of Engineering - An Endless Frontier, and fascinated by Sunny Auyang's comprehensive knowledge of the subject. This is just the kind of book the National Academy of Engineering has been encouraging to promote the importance of engineering to the public. It will have a long shelf-life in that it pulls together material that is not readily accessible, and will serve as a reference for anyone interested in engineering as a profession. Engineering needs this book!
--John Hutchinson, Harvard University

Engineering - An Endless Frontier is extraordinary in scope. Sunny Auyang describes the different kinds of contemporary engineering practices and productions, attempts to provide historical background, explains the scientific basis for engineering innovation in different fields, and addresses the broad, systems level managerial, entrepreneurial, and design activities of professionals. It's rare to find a single author who can grasp and explain the essential features of modern technologies across such an array of industrial sectors and engineering disciplines and explain how they work, why they work they way they do, and what is required for their innovation, development and, yes, even maintenance.
--Louis L. Bucciarelli, Professor Emeritus of Engineering and Technology Studies, MIT
This book is the first substantial study in any language of one of revolutionary Russia's most distinguished and controversial engineers - Iurii Vladimirovich Lomonosov (1876-1952). Not only does it provide an outline of his remarkable life and career, it also explores the relationship between science, technology and transport that developed in late tsarist and early Soviet Russia. Lomonosov's importance extends well beyond his scientific and engineering achievements thanks to the rich variety and public prominence of his professional and political activities. His generation - Lenin's generation - was inevitably at the forefront of Russian life from the 1910s to the 1930s, and Lomonosov took his place there as one of the country's best known and ultimately notorious engineers. As well as an innovative engineer who campaigned to enhance the role of science, he played a major role in shaping and administering the Russian railways, and undertook several diplomatic and scientific missions to the West during the early years of the Revolution. Falling from political favour during an assignment in Germany (1923-1927), he achieved notoriety in Russia as a 'non-returner' by apparently declining to return home. Thereby escaping probable arrest and execution, he began a new life abroad (1927-1952) which included a research post at the California Institute of Technology in 1929-1930, collaborative projects with the famous physicist P.L. Kapitsa in Cambridge, a long-time association with the Institution of Mechanical Engineers in London, and work for the British War Office during the Second World War. From Marxist revolutionary to American academic, this study reveals Lomonosov's extraordinary life. Drawing on a wide variety of official Russian sources, as well as Lomonosov's own diaries and memoirs, a vivid portrait of his life is presented, offering a better understanding of how science, technology and politics interacted in early-twentieth-century Russia.
How would you go about rebuilding a technological society from scratch?

If our technological society collapsed tomorrow what would be the one book you would want to press into the hands of the postapocalyptic survivors? What crucial knowledge would they need to survive in the immediate aftermath and to rebuild civilization as quickly as possible?

Human knowledge is collective, distributed across the population. It has built on itself for centuries, becoming vast and increasingly specialized. Most of us are ignorant about the fundamental principles of the civilization that supports us, happily utilizing the latest—or even the most basic—technology without having the slightest idea of why it works or how it came to be. If you had to go back to absolute basics, like some sort of postcataclysmic Robinson Crusoe, would you know how to re-create an internal combustion engine, put together a microscope, get metals out of rock, or even how to produce food for yourself?


Lewis Dartnell proposes that the key to preserving civilization in an apocalyptic scenario is to provide a quickstart guide, adapted to cataclysmic circumstances. The Knowledge describes many of the modern technologies we employ, but first it explains the fundamentals upon which they are built. Every piece of technology rests on an enormous support network of other technologies, all interlinked and mutually dependent. You can’t hope to build a radio, for example, without understanding how to acquire the raw materials it requires, as well as generate the electricity needed to run it. But Dartnell doesn’t just provide specific information for starting over; he also reveals the greatest invention of them all—the phenomenal knowledge-generating machine that is the scientific method itself. 


The Knowledge is a brilliantly original guide to the fundamentals of science and how it built our modern world.

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--Tom Igoe, author of Physical Computing and Making Things Talk

Want to learn the fundamentals of electronics in a fun, hands-on way? With Make: Electronics, you'll start working on real projects as soon as you crack open the book. Explore all of the key components and essential principles through a series of fascinating experiments. You'll build the circuits first, then learn the theory behind them!

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