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

Princeton University Press
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Published on
Aug 7, 2013
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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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Thomas S. Kuhn
A good book may have the power to change the way we see the world, but a great book actually becomes part of our daily consciousness, pervading our thinking to the point that we take it for granted, and we forget how provocative and challenging its ideas once were—and still are. The Structure of Scientific Revolutions is that kind of book. When it was first published in 1962, it was a landmark event in the history and philosophy of science. Fifty years later, it still has many lessons to teach.

With The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, Kuhn challenged long-standing linear notions of scientific progress, arguing that transformative ideas don’t arise from the day-to-day, gradual process of experimentation and data accumulation but that the revolutions in science, those breakthrough moments that disrupt accepted thinking and offer unanticipated ideas, occur outside of “normal science,” as he called it. Though Kuhn was writing when physics ruled the sciences, his ideas on how scientific revolutions bring order to the anomalies that amass over time in research experiments are still instructive in our biotech age.

This new edition of Kuhn’s essential work in the history of science includes an insightful introduction by Ian Hacking, which clarifies terms popularized by Kuhn, including paradigm and incommensurability, and applies Kuhn’s ideas to the science of today. Usefully keyed to the separate sections of the book, Hacking’s introduction provides important background information as well as a contemporary context. Newly designed, with an expanded index, this edition will be eagerly welcomed by the next generation of readers seeking to understand the history of our perspectives on science.
Walter Isaacson
David P. Billington
In den USA lï¿1⁄2ngst zum Klassiker avanciert, erscheint "The Tower and the Bridge" nun endlich in deutscher ï¿1⁄2bersetzung. In seinem Geleitwort zur deutschen Ausgabe schreibt Jï¿1⁄2rg Schlaich: "Dieses Buch ist 'Pflichtlektï¿1⁄2re' und Hochgenuss fï¿1⁄2r den 'Ingenieurbaukï¿1⁄2nstler', bei dessen Bauten der Zusammenhang von Form und Kraftfluss ablesbar ist und die sich durch die Ideale Effizienz, Wirtschaftlichkeit und Eleganz auszeichnen."
Billington begrï¿1⁄2ndet in diesem Buch die neue, eigenstï¿1⁄2ndige Kunstform Ingenieurbau (Structural Art), die er als gleichberechtigt neben der Architektur stehend proklamiert. Nicht zufï¿1⁄2llig nennt der Titel die klassischen Domï¿1⁄2nen des Bauingenieurs, wobei sich Billington auf die epochalen Bauwerke Eiffelturm und Brooklyn Bridge bezieht.
Billington stellt in leicht lesbarem Stil und auf unterhaltsame Weise die Ideale, Prinzipien und Methoden der Kunst des Ingenieurbaus in ihrer historischen Entwicklung anhand der Bauwerke herausragender Ingenieure (z. B. Telford, Maillart, Freyssinet, Menn) dar.
Mit der Etablierung des Ingenieurbaus als Kunstform und der Explikation der inhï¿1⁄2renten Prinzipien gibt Billington dem Leser gut begrï¿1⁄2ndete Argumente fï¿1⁄2r eine ï¿1⁄2sthetische Diskussion im Bereich der Ingenieurbauwerke an die Hand. Damit wird gleichzeitig eine Grundlage fï¿1⁄2r die Kritik zur neuen Kunst geschaffen: die schon lange geforderte Konstruktionskritik. So hat dieses zeitlose Buch das Potenzial, der Debatte um Baukultur und insbesondere um gestalterische Aspekte im Ingenieurbau im deutschsprachigen Raum neue Impulse zu verleihen.
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