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Why Things Break: Understanding the World By the Way It Comes Apart Paperback – September 28, 2004
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From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
Particularly interesting--at least I found them so--are the stories of creating ever tougher and harder materials, from metal to ceramics, starting with ancient techniques thousands of years ago. If you've ever wondered how the Samurai made their swords, or how steel ultimately replaced bronze in the case of weapons, Eberhart's vignettes will delight you. The case study of Corning's Corelle line is especially instructive in demonstrating the pitfalls of trying to make commercially viable materials that don't break easily, and often one gets the impression this was a solution looking for a problem. Other fascinating examples include the sinking of the Titanic, the armor aboard the USAF's C141, and litigation involving the fracturing of a cast-iron pump.
Most of the science presented will be understandable to an arts major, although on occasion the chemistry might prove hard going--sometimes explanations in science can be tough! On pages 142-143, the author makes some errors: the WWII aircraft he cites--the Supermarine Spitfire and the Mitsubishi Zero--were not mostly made of wood; rather new aluminum alloys were used. Perhaps Erhard was thinking of the twin-engine DeHavilland Mosquito fighter-bomber.
My only criticism is that the real why of things breaking is really relegated to a couple of chapters at the end of the book, but possibly this is because still so little is known about the subject.
After reading the book, I felt as if I knew the Author and would enjoy having dinner with him.
I didn't buy it from Amazon, I picked it up at the library - it caught my eye - because, of course I want to know why things break, why bridges fall down - what can I do to keep things from breaking.
Eberhart never gets there. It's a rambling treatise on his education on fracture - which is considerable. Along the way are some interesting stories - with some Nobel Prize Winner name dropping and envy thrown in.
He ends the book by telling about his "breakthrough" research about molecular bonding and charge densities that reminded me slightly of a graduate level engineering chemistry class. Seems like he tells you, at a molecular level, what the qualities of a material that doesn't break are. But then it stops.
He tells you about a company that a co researcher has formed to commercialize the ideas - are you supposed to call them for advice on which things will break and which won't? What about that question, what can I do? - back to 2 stars.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Why Things Break presents seldom-heard views on several human ordeals, from the development of mankind's first technologies to the Challenger disaster. Read morePublished 18 months ago by T. Wilson
Great book, wonderful insights. I would even go as far as saying it is a must read for readers who seek the an understanding of physical realities.Published 19 months ago by Jesse
This book's only weakness (as other reviewers have pointed out) is that it should have diagrams at certain points where things can become a bit jargony. Read morePublished on August 19, 2013 by ksci
This book reminds me of some of the best physics, mathematics, and chemistry professors I've had. The author rambles a lot before getting to the point of each chapter, but I find... Read morePublished on April 23, 2013 by WJPII
This book contains a few interesting interludes, but keeps coming back to the author's personal history. Read morePublished on February 7, 2011 by Daniel Dolan
I can't say enough positive things about this book. It should be required reading for all engineering students graduating, and I encouraged students to read it when I was teaching... Read morePublished on November 17, 2008 by Bryce
This book has several interesting bits, such as the development of Corelle or why the Titanic sank. However, I was not very interested in the author's description of his career... Read morePublished on September 29, 2008 by Jason A