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 or a kangaroo, this book will ease your anxiety and answer your questions. J. E. Gordon strips engineering of its confusing technical terms, communicating its founding principles in accessible, witty prose.
My boss gave me this book when I arrived at my first job, and it changed the way I saw the world. It covers the basics of structural engineering from cathedrals to clothing, and does so with a blend of historical references and dry British humor that makes it delightful to read. Only basic math is used. The emphasis is on the basic principles (tension, compression, shear, etc.)and how they apply to real-world examples, ranging from bridge trusses to bias-cut fabrics and bat wings. I’d recommend this book for anyone who’s curious about how things work. My sole complaint is that this edition is a bit bulky and might seem intimidating, but that’s because the print is fairly large. I preferred the earlier British Penguin edition which was much more compact.
I first read both Structures and Gordon’s other book, The New Science of Strong Materials, in the early ’80’s. I have read them several times since, and am constantly trying to find them because I keep giving them away to people. When I read Gordon’s explanations of the history and present state of the engineering art, I look at things as diverse as cathedrals and dogs’ bladders in a new way. I remember my training in the more equation-heavy disciplines, and I can compare my 16 years of experience in engineering to the words in the book and say, “Oh yes, that’s just the way it is,” or “Oh, so that’s why that happened. Too bad I didn’t think of it at the time.”
<< Structures: Or Why Things Don’t Fall Down >>
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