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The Engines of Our Ingenuity offers a series of intriguing glimpses into technology—as a mirror, as a danger, as a product of heroic hubris. The book brims with insightful observations. Lienhard ...
The Engines of Our Ingenuity offers a series of intriguing glimpses into technology—as a mirror, as a danger, as a product of heroic hubris. The book brims with insightful observations. Lienhard writes, for instance, that the history of technology is a history of us—we are the machines we create. Indeed, our very first technology, farming, which demanded year-long care, dramatically changed the rhythms of human life and the course of our history. We also learn that war does not necessarily fuel invention (radar, jets, and the digital computer all emerged before World War II began), and that the medieval Church was actually a driving force behind the growth of Western technology (Cistercian monasteries were virtual factories, putting water wheels to work in wood-cutting, forging, and olive crushing). Lienhard also illuminates the unpredictable nature of the inventive mind, leading us through one fascinating example after another. Thomas Edison and Nikola Tesla, for instance, were highly passionate, even combative figures, while the almost invisible Josiah Willard Gibbs, living a quiet, outwardly uneventful life, was probably America's greatest scientist.
Lienhard ranges far and wide with stories of inventors, mathematicians, and engineers, telling the story of the canoe, the DC-3, the Hoover Dam, the diode, and the sewing machine. The result is less history thanautobiography—for the autobiography of all of us is written in our machines.
"An extremely interesting and readable book. Examples drawn from agriculture, sanitary engineering, military engineering, steam power, space travel, manufacturing, transportation, communications, mathematics, and numerous other areas of science, engineering, and technology enable Lienhard to illustrate exactly the points he wishes to make. Unusual and refreshing."—Technology and Culture
"A fitting introduction to the human obsession with invention."Publisher's Weekly
"John Lienhard has a great ear for concise narrative, and The Engines of Our Ingenuity is a wonderful collection of compelling stories about engineers and engineering accomplishments."-Henry Petroski, A.S. Vesic Professor of Civil Engineering and Professor of History, Duke University and author of Engineers of Dreams
"There is nothing better than learning a lot and being entertained at the same time. John Lienhard manages to provide this wonderful experience in his Public Radio broadcast, and now in this delightful book."-Samuel C. Florman, Chairman, Kreisler Borg Florman, and author of The Existential Pleasures of Engineering
"The Engines of Our Ingenuity provides a humane insight to the history of science and technology, relating the past to the present, capturing the dynamics of how science and technology has shaped the course of human history, and illustrating how societal environment and human needs have conditioned the direction of technological innovation throughout history. It is a wonderful book for both those not yet initiated in the field of science and technology and those who aspire to make contributions through their scientific discoveries and technological innovations."-Nam P. Suh, Professor and Head, Department of Mechanical Engineering, MIT, and author ofThe Principles of Design
"Never mind kings or prophets or explorers. What matters more to our immediate world are the efforts of people, both known and nameless, who have given us the devices with which we're surrounded. John Lienhard celebrates their achievements, exploring of the mysterious alchemy of technology, science, and creativity that underly invention. Graceful writing, insightful analyses, good stories-a book for technophobes and technophiles alike."—Steven Vogel, James B. Duke Professor of Zoology, Duke University, and author ofCats' Paws and Catapults: Mechanical Worlds of Nature and People