Structures: Or Why Things Don't Fall Down

Structures: Or Why Things Don't Fall Down

by J. E. Gordon


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In a book that Business Insider noted as one of the "14 Books that inspired Elon Musk," J.E. Gordon strips engineering of its confusing technical terms, communicating its founding principles in accessible, witty prose.

For anyone who has ever wondered why suspension bridges don't collapse under eight lanes of traffic, how dams hold back--or give way under--thousands of gallons of water, or what principles guide the design of a skyscraper, a bias-cut dress, or a kangaroo, this book will ease your anxiety and answer your questions.

Structures: Or Why Things Don't Fall Down is an informal explanation of the basic forces that hold together the ordinary and essential things of this world--from buildings and bodies to flying aircraft and eggshells. In a style that combines wit, a masterful command of his subject, and an encyclopedic range of reference, Gordon includes such chapters as "How to Design a Worm" and "The Advantage of Being a Beam," offering humorous insights in human and natural creation.

Architects and engineers will appreciate the clear and cogent explanations of the concepts of stress, shear, torsion, fracture, and compression. If you're building a house, a sailboat, or a catapult, here is a handy tool for understanding the mechanics of joinery, floors, ceilings, hulls, masts--or flying buttresses.

Without jargon or oversimplification, Structures opens up the marvels of technology to anyone interested in the foundations of our everyday lives.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780306812835
Publisher: Hachette Books
Publication date: 07/29/2003
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 424
Sales rank: 105,472
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.12(d)

About the Author

J. E. Gordon, formerly a professor at the University of Reading, was renowned for his research in plastics, crystals, and new materials.

Table of Contents

1 The structures in our lives — or how to communicate with engineers.- One The difficult birth of the science of elasticity.- 2 Why structures carry loads — or the springiness of solids.- 3 The invention of stress and strain — or Baron Cauchy and the decipherment of Young’s modulus.- 4 Designing for safety — or can you really trust strength calculations?.- 5 Strain energy and modem fracture mechanics — with a digression on bows, catapults and kangaroos.- Two Tension structures.- 6 Tension structures and pressure vessels — with some remarks on boilers, bats and Chinese junks.- 7 Joints, fastenings and people — also about creep and chariot wheels.- 8 Soft materials and living structures — or how to design a worm.- Three Compression and bending structures.- 9 Walls, arches and dams — or cloud-capp’d towers and the stability of masonry.- 10 Something about bridges — or Saint Bénezèt and Saint Isambard.- 11 The advantage of being a beam — with observations on roofs, trusses and masts.- 12 The mysteries of shear and torsion — or Polaris and the bias-cut nightie.- 13 The various ways of failing in compression — or sandwiches, skulls and Dr Euler.- Four And the consequence was….- 14 The philosophy of design — or the shape, the weight and the cost.- 15 A chapter of accidents — a study in sin, error and metal fatigue.- 16 Efficiency and aesthetics — or the world we have to live in.- Appendix 1 Handbooks and formulae.- Appendix 2 Beam theory.- Appendix 3 Torsion.- Appendix 4 The efficiency of columns and panels under compression loads.- Suggestions for further study.

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