The New Way Things Work

The New Way Things Work


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The information age is upon us, baffling us with thousands of complicated state-of-the-art technologies. To help make sense of the computer age, David Macaulay brings us The New Way Things Work. This completely updated and expanded edition describes twelve new machines and includes more than seventy new pages detailing the latest innovations. With an entirely new section that guides us through the complicated world of digital machinery, where masses of electronic information can be squeezed onto a single tiny microchip, this revised edition embraces all of the newest developments, from cars to watches. Each scientific principle is brilliantly explained—with the help of a charming, if rather slow-witted, woolly mammoth.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780395938478
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication date: 10/28/1998
Edition description: Revised
Pages: 400
Product dimensions: 8.80(w) x 10.90(h) x 1.30(d)
Lexile: 1180L (what's this?)
Age Range: 12 - 17 Years

About the Author

David Macaulay is an award-winning author and illustrator whose books have sold millions of copies in the United States alone, and his work has been translated into a dozen languages. Macaulay has garnered numerous awards including the Caldecott Medal and Honor Awards, the Boston Globe–Horn Book Award, the Christopher Award, an American Institute of Architects Medal, and the Washington Post–Children’s Book Guild Nonfiction Award. In 2006, he was the recipient of a MacArthur Fellowship, given “to encourage people of outstanding talent to pursue their own creative, intellectual, and professional inclinations.” Superb design, magnificent illustrations, and clearly presented information distinguish all of his books. David Macaulay lives with his family in Vermont.

Read an Excerpt

A mammoth was returning from a long vacation when he happened upon a wall covered with highly sophisticated microchips and things. As a confirmed analog creature from way back, the mammoth had little time for these charmless contraptions. In fact had it not been for the banners atop the wall, each of which was emblazoned with the international symbol for fresh swamp grass, he would have never ever slowed down. But swamp grass is swamp grass no matter who's paying. With drool already collecting at the end of his trunk, he headed for the velvet curtain and entered the Digital Domain.

Table of Contents




10-17 THE INCLINED PLANE Locks and keys; cutting machines; can opener; plough; zipper

18-29 LEVERS Includes: lever in action; weighing machines; grand piano; manual typewriter; firefighters ladder

30-35 WHEEL AND AXLE Wheel and axle at work; waterwheel; turbine; windmill; wind turbine; dentist's drill.

36-53 GEARS AND BELTS Includes: gear box; mechanical clocks; differential; lawn sprinkler; cams and cranks; sewing machine.

54-61 PULLEYS Chain hoist; counterweights; block and tackle; tower crane; escalator; lift.

62-69 SCREWS Screws at work; tap; drills and augers; combine harvester.

70-77 ROTATING WHEELS Gyroscope, starter motor; roller blind; car seat belt

78-81 SPRINGS Stapler; car suspension

82-89 FRICTION Clutch; synchromesh; car brakes; oil rig; freedom from friction; perpetual motion.



94-105 FLOATING Submersible; submarine; passenger boat; wind surfer; yacht; airship; hot-air balloon.

106-119 FLYING Includes: airplane; airliner wing; helicopter; jump-jet; hydrofoil

120-141 PRESSURE POWER Includes: pumps; pneumatic drill; hydraulics; power steering; suction; carburetor; fuel injection.

142-163 EXPLOITING HEAT Includes: heat waves; combustion engines; blast furnace; electric heater; toaster; refrigerator.

164-173 NUCLEAR POWER Nuclear fission; nuclear fusion; nuclear weapons; fallout; nuclear reactor; fusion power.



178-197 LIGHT AND IMAGES Includes: lighting; light bulb; mirrors; endoscope; lenses; telescopes; liquid crystals; holograms.

198-207 PHOTOGRAPHY Includes: cameras; color photograph; photo booth; movie camera; movie projector.

208-217 PRINTING Papermaking; printing plates; printing press; bookbinding.

218-233 SOUND AND MUSIC Woodwind instruments; brass instruments; string instruments; percussion instruments; microphone; synthesizer; electric guitar; mixer; amplifier; loudspeakers; earphones; record player; tape recorder.

234-253 TELECOMMUNICATIONS Telephone; radio transmitter; radio receiver; radio signals; television camera; camcorder; video recorder; television set; satellites; space telescope; radio telescope; satellite dish; space probes.



258-273 ELECTRICITY Includes: photocopier; air cleaner; ionizer; lightning conductor; quartz clock; self-winding watch; electric circuit; batteries; solar cell, remote control unit.

274-289 MAGNETISM Includes: magnets at work; electric bell; electric horn; maglev train; disc drive; electric generator; transformer; power supply; car ignition system.

290-309 SENSORS AND DETECTORS Includes: seismograph; air bag; autopilot; breath tester; smoke detector; X-rays; sonar; ultrasound; scanner; radar; metal detector; automatic doors; advanced burglar alarms; body scanner; automatic transmission; cruise control.




The Digital Domain will consist of five main sections: Forming Bits; Storing Bits; Processing Bits; Sending Bits; Using Bits. All of the following topics will be covered within these five sections:

ANALOG/DIGITAL SYSTEMS Binary code; digital pictures; analog-digital conversion; microchip

COMPUTER Includes: mouse; keyboard; scanner; voice recognition; memory; floppy disk; hard disk; ROM; RAM; CD-ROM; processor; operating system; monitor; printers; sound; modem; e-mail; Internet; fiber optics.

COMMUNICATION Includes: fax machine and fax card; digital telephone; mobile phone.

ENTERTAINMENT Includes: digital radio; digital TV and video; compact disc; digital sound.

OTHER DIGITAL SYSTEMS Electronic money and banking; digital security; digital camera; automatic camera; bar-code reader; GPS portable navigator; virtual reality, simulator; robot.


374-389 EUREKA!
An easy to use, illustrated survey of key inventions from the ax to the micro-chip, in chronological order.


396-400 INDEX

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

"The Way Things Work is not the only book that has tried to explain modern mysteries, but it's the best. Macaulay's explanations are lucid; they are also fun. He includes visual puns, running jokes, a cast of thousands of tiny participants in on and around the machines, choirs of angels and lots of big woolly mammoths." Boston Globe

"Keep the book a secret from your kids for a while and study up on the explanations of questions you're anticipating. Let Macaulay make you look smarter than you think you are. The kids will certainly be impressed - and you'll be getting a real education in the bargain." The Los Angeles Times

"The Way Things Work is a superb achievement. It is a very handsome book, a fascinating collection of riddles and a sound educational accomplishment that, while explaining in words and pictures - mostly pictures - some of the mysteries of physics, makes you smile, and often laugh. The author is honest enough to say that the book was intended for children of all ages, and brilliant enough to make all its readers feel brighter than they ever thought they could be." The New York Times

"This is a work of mammoth imagination, energy, and humor. It justifies every critic's belief that information and entertainment are not mutually exclusive - good nonfiction is storytelling at its best." The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, Starred

"Combining the tongue-in-cheek observations of a budding prehistoric engineer with acute descriptions of the functioning of mechanical and electrical machines, Macaulay has produced a superb volume.... Macaulay's unusual ability to focus, distill, organize, and convey information through his art has never been so impressively displayed." Horn Book, Starred

"An astonishing tour-de-force, three years in the making, by the architect-turned-author who has given us Cathedral and City...Large, clear, complete drawings...contain unexpected little details providing hours of enlightenment and discovery." Kirkus Reviews with Pointers

"A book to be treasured as both a browsing item and as a gold mine of reference information." School Library Journal, Starred

Customer Reviews

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The New Way Things Work 3.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 10 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
wow. if yer kid is smart or you want to catch up to him/her...BUY THIS BOOK NOW and anything else ever written by this author.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I'm 26 and I still love this book! It's great for people who love to fix things, take things apart, and put them back together. Once you get over the fact that's it's written to be accessible to young people, people of any age can enjoy the book and learn from it.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I'm 16 years old, and am very curious about the way things work! This book taught me more than a thing or two. It contains interesting things ... for example, have you ever wondered how a stapler works?? I have, and this book's got the answers. I definitely recommend this book to anyone out there who wants to know how things work, enjoys science, or just wants to learn a new thing or two.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Fantastic description of how real world devices work, with all of the underlying physics explained in simple terms. The drawings are great and the wooly mammoth makes the whole thing fun. We're buying a set of these for use in our physics class next year.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The illustrations and explanations are great for those who are visual learners. It's a great book for those who want to know the way things work.
cmbohn on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Got this for my son. He absolutely LOVES it. I think it's a lot of fun too. I like the little woolly mammoths that illustrate the concepts. Very fun book, recommended especially for children with a mechanical interest.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Since there is no way to rate customer service, I am left with leaving my feedback here.  I love this book and was hoping to give the book to my son for Christmas.  When I ordered the book, I was under the impression that said book would be shipped before Christmas..... alass almost 5  days later I learn that the book will not be shipped until January.  Customer service has been absolutly NO help in trying to get me the book in time for Christmas.  Seems that I have to do the leg work because they were not truthful when I placed the order.  I've spent nearly $600 at the brick and mortar store this year alone, including the purchase of 2 Nooks, and I can not get any meaningful assistance from customer service to help solve "my" problem.... not even a "let me call the local store and see what we can do to help".  I should have gone through Amazon.
Guest More than 1 year ago
It reminds me of a book called 'Rocket science for Dummies' No one would enjoy reading it. It would only be suitable for a library.