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Remaking the World: Adventures in Engineeringby Henry Petroski
Synopses & Reviews
"Petroski has an inquisitive mind, and he is a fine writer. . . . [He] takes us on a lively tour of engineers, their creations and their necessary turns of mind." --Los Angeles Times
From the Ferris wheel to the integrated circuit, feats of engineering have changed our environment in countless ways, big and small. In Remaking the World: Adventures in Engineering, Duke University's Henry Petroski focuses on the big: Malaysia's 1,482-foot Petronas Towers as well as the Panama Canal, a cut through the continental divide that required the excavation of 311 million cubic yards of earth.
Remaking the World tells the stories behind the man-made wonders of the world, from squabbles over the naming of the Hoover Dam to the effects the Titanic disaster had on the engineering community of 1912. Here, too, are the stories of the
personalities behind the wonders, from the jaunty Isambard Kingdom Brunel, designer of nineteenth-century transatlantic steamships, to Charles Steinmetz, oddball genius of the General Electric Company, whose office of preference was a battered twelve-foot canoe. Spirited and absorbing, Remaking the World is a celebration of the creative instinct and of the men and women whose inspirations have immeasurably improved our world.
"Petroski [is] America's poet laureate of technology. . . . Remaking the World is another fine book." --Houston Chronicle
"Remaking the World really is an adventure in engineering."
--San Diego Union-Tribune
This collection of informative and pleasurable essays by Henry Petroski elucidates the role of engineers in shaping our environment in countless ways, big and small.
In Remaking the WorldPetroski gravitates this time, perhaps, toward the big: the English Channel tunnel, the Panama Canal, Hoover Dam, the QE2, and the Petronas Twin Towers in Malaysia, now the tallest buildings in the world. He profilesCharles Steinmetz, the genius of the General Electric Company; Henry Martyn Robert, a military engineer who created Robert's Rules of Order; and James Nasmyth, the Scotsman whose machine tools helped shapenineteenth-century ocean and rail transportation. Petroski sifts through the fossils of technology for cautionary tales and remarkable twists of fortune, and reminds us that failure is often a necessary step on the path tonew discoveries. He explains soil mechanics by way of a game of rock, scissors, paper, and clarifies fundamental principles of engineering through the spokes of a Ferriswheel.
Most of all, Henry Petroski continues to celebrate the men and women whose scrawls on the backs of envelopes have immeasurably improved our world.
From theHardcover edition.
About the Author
Henry Petroski is the Aleksandar S. Vesic Professor of Civil Engineering and Professor of History at Duke University, where he also serves as chairman of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. The author of seven previous books, he has received grants from the National Science Foundation and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the National Humanities Center.
From the Hardcover edition.
Table of Contents
Images of an engineer — Alfred Nobel's prizes — Henry Martyn Robert — James Nasmyth — On the backs of envelopes — Good drawings and bad dreams — Failed promises — In context — Men and women of progress — Soil mechanics — Is technology wired? — Harnessing steam — The Great Eastern — Driven by economics — The Panama Canal — The Ferris wheel — Hoover Dam — The Channel Tunnel — The Petronas towers.
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