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The New Way Things Work Hardcover – October 26, 1998
"Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress"
Is the world really falling apart? Is the ideal of progress obsolete? Cognitive scientist and public intellectual Steven Pinker urges us to step back from the gory headlines and prophecies of doom, and instead, follow the data: In seventy-five jaw-dropping graphs, Pinker shows that life, health, prosperity, safety, peace, knowledge, and happiness are on the rise. Learn more
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"Is it a fact--or have I dreamt it--that, by means of electricity, the world of matter has become a great nerve, vibrating thousands of miles in a breathless point of time?" If you, like Nathaniel Hawthorne, are kept up at night wondering about how things work--from electricity to can openers--then you and your favorite kids shouldn't be a moment longer without David Macaulay's The New Way Things Work. The award-winning author-illustrator--a former architect and junior high school teacher--is perfectly poised to be the Great Explainer of the whirrings and whizzings of the world of machines, a talent that landed the 1988 version of The Way Things Work on the New York Times bestsellers list for 50 weeks. Grouping machines together by the principles that govern their actions rather than by their uses, Macaulay helps us understand in a heavily visual, humorous, unerringly precise way what gadgets such as a toilet, a carburetor, and a fire extinguisher have in common.
The New Way Things Work boasts a richly illustrated 80-page section that wrenches us all (including the curious, bumbling wooly mammoth who ambles along with the reader) into the digital age of modems, digital cameras, compact disks, bits, and bytes. Readers can glory in gears in "The Mechanics of Movement," investigate flying in "Harnessing the Elements," demystify the sound of music in "Working with Waves," marvel at magnetism in "Electricity & Automation," and examine e-mail in "The Digital Domain." An illustrated survey of significant inventions closes the book, along with a glossary of technical terms, and an index. What possible link could there be between zippers and plows, dentist drills and windmills? Parking meters and meat grinders, jumbo jets and jackhammers, remote control and rockets, electric guitars and egg beaters? Macaulay demystifies them all. (All ages) --Karin Snelson
From School Library Journal
Grade 4 Up-The popular "guide to the workings of machines" (Houghton, 1988) has been updated to include the digital world. Of the 80 new pages advertised on the cover, 60 are found in the added section on computer technology. Very few items (parking meters and bicycle brakes) have disappeared into obsolescence, a few new ones have appeared (camcorders and airbags), and cosmetic changes are evident throughout in the enhanced color printing. The features that made the first edition a publishing phenomenon remain. Macaulay's clear and comprehensible drawings are accompanied by Neil Ardley's explanations, and in this edition the technical writer gets credit for his expertise on the title page. The bemused woolly mammoth of the original edition continues to demonstrate his prehistorically simple ideas on such concepts as heat, pressure, fire fighting, sending messages, etc., adding whimsical entries to entertain browsers. While much of the material remains unaltered, the significance of computer technology in our world makes this new edition a vital update or new purchase.
Shirley Wilton, Ocean County College, Toms River, NJ
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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It may be a bit of nostalga as well - I had this book growing up and loved reading it cover-to-cover.
The first illustration even shows God busy creating the rotation of the earth. Then they go to the earth where wooly mammoths lived and pick up one to take us through the history of mechanics, machines, and the like. Dozens of movements in five sections: waves, electricity, automation, digital domain, and machines show us just how easy these things are to understand done in drawerings.
Just as in child's play, there is no seeming order to the arrangement of items in the book. For example here are a few pages next to each other: vacuum cleaners, aqualungs or oxygen tanks, the toilet tank, the water meter, dishwasher, spray nozzle, fire extinguisher. Are you seeing an order? Yes, so am I.
Flipping over a hundred pages, I find the jet engine, rocket engines, nuclear power, nuclear weapons, fallout, nuclear reactor. OK, a definite pattern. Another hundred pages show these topics: movie camera, movie projector, printing, paper making, printing plate, printing press, bookbinding. More discernible order and logical arrangement.
One last check: scanner, bits and bytes, flash memory, magnetic storage, microchip, processor, software. We know where we are and recognize the order--a computer and its parts.
This reviewer has a suggestion for the reader. Once you have this book in hand, take it home, take it out every night and read a comfortable number of pages. If you have a child, read one page, discuss it, put this one away and take out a night-night book to read. If this is just your book, read several pages. By the time you have finished the book, you will have added dozens of operating systems to the computer banks in your own brain, making your child and/or yourself an expert in the way things work.
...however, part of the reason why I've been going through this book so slowly, is due to some severe errors in the illustrations, leaving me to study them perhaps a bit too intensely, hoping -I- am the one not understanding things correctly, when in fact I am almost positive some of the illustrations are simply incorrect. One of them is impossible as a working machine the way it is written.
Here are two examples:
Page 23; there is a diagram of a complex lever system, using nail clippers as the example. I would argue that the handle is actually a FIRST class lever, just like the nail extractor shown on the previous page. However, the diagram of fulcrums, effort, and load suggest that the handle is actually a third-class lever. Well... maybe, depending on how you look at the system. If we focus solely on the handle, there is no doubt it would be considered a first-class lever, so with that in mind, I believe an explanation should be made about why Macaulay considers it a third-class lever, instead of a first-class one.
When you read/look at the diagram, you'll understand my point.
The second illustration I have a problem with, I don't believe there is any room for dispute over; page 38, a diagram of an analogue bicycle distance counter. The way that the system is drawn, it would simply either not work, or, it would work backwards, with the numbers going DOWN instead of increasing with distance. This is because the diagram shows a reduction gear within a gear ring, the gear ring being responsible for turning the first dial in the system. The illustration shows the reduction gear - which is within a gear ring; the gear ring being the part that moves the first dial - as moving in an OPPOSING direction as the gear ring. On the next page, there is a diagram of how a salad spinner works with the same principle, illustrating very clearly that a gear within gear ring will spin the SAME direction as the gear ring. A simple peek at a salad spinner will show what I'm talking about. Or, simply look at the diagram on page 39, which IS correct.
The way the distance counter is drawn, the machine would not work. If merely one extra gear was drawn between the reduction gear and the gear ring, it would reverse the directions of the force, and the system would work. As it's CURRENTLY drawn, however, the gear ring and the reduction ring would simply grind together, or the dials would run BACKWARDS, counting DOWN your distance instead of counting it UP, as it should.
I don't think I'm misunderstanding the illustration. If someone DOES think I do, by all means please comment on this review, as I would much prefer this to be an issue of me misunderstanding something, then the alternative, which is that the illustration is patently impossible.
Unfortunately, after thinking about this conundrum for about 2 days, I'm almost positive it's an incorrect illustration.
Now, I was a rather self-conscious child. Had I started reading this book, and not understood the illustration, I'd most likely think the book was over my head, and that I was not capable of understanding its contents. There are many precocious children out there who also suffer from low self-esteem, and are likely to undergo a similar interpretation; assuming THEY are the ones with the problem, and not the book.
...however, I TOTALLY recommend this book to anyone over the age of... probably 15 or so, unless the child is in AP/IB-program-type classes. This is a VERY complex book, and some of the explanations are not worded well, leaving the reader to study the illustrations intensely to understand the concepts involved, which brings me back to my main criticism of the book.
If I am wrong about these illustrations, please feel welcome to comment on this review. I would LOVE it to be the case that I am the one misunderstanding the illustration. BUT, I don't think that's the case.
Also, if someone knows how to contact Macaulay, that would also be a great reason to leave a comment on this review.
Thanks for reading this, and, I do hope you buy the book. The illustrations that are done correctly more than compensate for the ones that are done poorly/mistakenly, but it is something that I think is unforgivable from an editing standpoint, and could very well shut a child's interest for engineering right out. There's already a shortage of talented engineers in the world as it stands now, and I fear the inaccuracies in this book may add to the problem.
Lastly, I'll simply stress that this book is TOTALLY worth purchasing, but make sure that if bought for a child, you're there to explain the shlubs in editing the illustrations for publishing.
All the best, folks,