Engineering

( 1 )

Overview

Engineering is part of almost everything we do—from the buildings we live in and the roads and railways we travel on, to the telephones and computers we use to communicate and the X-ray machines that help doctors diagnose diseases. In this Very Short Introduction, David Blockley explores the nature and practice of engineering—its history, its scope, and its relationship with art, craft, science, and technology. He begins with its early roots, ranging from Archimedes to some of the great figures of engineering ...

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Engineering: A Very Short Introduction

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Overview

Engineering is part of almost everything we do—from the buildings we live in and the roads and railways we travel on, to the telephones and computers we use to communicate and the X-ray machines that help doctors diagnose diseases. In this Very Short Introduction, David Blockley explores the nature and practice of engineering—its history, its scope, and its relationship with art, craft, science, and technology. He begins with its early roots, ranging from Archimedes to some of the great figures of engineering such as Brunel and Marconi, right up to the modern day, describing the five ages of engineering—gravity, heat, electromagnetism, information, and systems—and showing how they relate to one another. Blockley discusses some of engineering's great achievements as well as its great disasters—such as when things went catastrophically wrong at Chernobyl—using examples of everyday tools to reveal how engineering actually works. He also looks at some of the contributions engineers will have to make in the future in order to sustain and promote human well-being.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780199578696
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 5/1/2012
  • Series: Very Short Introductions Series
  • Pages: 144
  • Sales rank: 641,544
  • Product dimensions: 4.30 (w) x 6.80 (h) x 0.40 (d)

Meet the Author

David Blockley is Head of the Department of Civil Engineering and Dean of the Faculty of Engineering at the University of Bristol.

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Table of Contents

1. From idea to reality
2. The age of gravity - time for work
3. The age of heat - you can't get something for nothing
4. The age of electromagnetism - the power of attraction
5. The age of information - getting smaller
6. The age of systems - risky futures
Glossary
Further reading

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Posted May 9, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    Probing Look at Engineering

    Engineering is all around us. It’s impossible to imagine the modern life without all the products, constructions, tools, systems, and myriad other objects and utilities that have been developed and constructed through the all-encompassing activity that we refer to as engineering. Yet, as it’s often the case, sometimes the most ubiquitous terms and concepts are the ones that are the hardest to define properly. In “Engineering: A Very Short Introduction” David Blockley tries to answer that question, and provide the historical and cultural context for the development and evolution of the engineering techniques, materials, and practices.

    Engineering is often associated closely with science, and the distinction between engineering and applied science is all but nonexistent. It is then no coincidence that the major shifts in the engineering tools and techniques have happened as the humanity has gained access and understanding of bigger and wider realms of scientific knowledge. This connection between science and engineering is also reflected in the way that this short book is organized. The main chapters of the book are dedicated to gravity, heat, electromagnetism, information, and systems. They don’t only reflect the historical development, but also the increase in complexity. I only wish there had been a chapter on bioengineering. This nascent field is bound to have significant and unimaginable impact in the upcoming years.

    One of this book’s biggest strengths is its willingness to take a look at engineering from a very deep and philosophical point of view. It makes this a very challenging read, and it can also make few sections feel perhaps unduly dry. Nonetheless, the book also provides plenty of concrete examples, insights, and tidbits of knowledge. I’ve learned for the first time that the term engineering is derived from ingenuity, and not from engine. I also understood for the first time how the cellular phone networks work, as well as a few other little engineering secrets. Overall, this is a very interesting book, but if you don’t have the stomach for philosophical musings (broadly understood), you may not like it all that much.

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