- Paperback: 421 pages
- Publisher: Da Capo Press; 1 edition (July 10, 2003)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0306812835
- ISBN-13: 978-0306812835
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.1 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 92 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #12,657 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Structures: Or Why Things Don't Fall Down 1st Edition
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"It is really, really good if you want a primer on structural design."―Elon Musk
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"Here we have the conversation in unbuttoned mood of a learned engineer with wide sympathies about his art, its history, its range, and the silly things which happen. It reads easily and has immense charm."―Architect's Journal
About the Author
J. E. Gordon, a professor at the University of Reading, is renowned for his research in plastics, crystals, and new materials.
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Top customer reviews
It's as close to a representation of how science is actually done as I've seen. Very unique.
FYI though, the guy tends to get a bit verbose and it sometimes feels like words were added to make his stream of consciousness writing make sense to others, but not enough words were taken away later.
Yet he goes beyond the science and history: he gives a human dimension to the machines and structures that uphold our society. Through this lens the way we look at society and its interaction with its inventions is exposed in all its beauty and ugliness.
I have no engineering background. Some ideas took a lot of extra searching on the Internet before I could grasp the concept I think the author was teaching. For example, tensile and compressive stress in a bent beam.
While there is still a lot I don't understand, I'm really satisfied because I can look at the world with a new understanding.
The italicized test at the start of each chapter is oddly formatted and some OCR errors crept in.
For example in the "spherical pressure vessels" section at loc 1664 it says that the "thickness of the wall or shell is l [ell]" but the formula used is "s = rp / 2t" and there is no l in that formula. The l [ell] should clearly be a t [tee].
Less important but more maddening is at location 1810 where when speaking of hawks, we find that "[these] exacting and maddening birds lpse condition very easily." A simply OCR substitution of p for o like this would have been caught by a simply spell check.
This book should have been proofread after scanning and before typesetting.
As to the content of the book it does a good job of covering the behavior of real-world things you may be familiar with. But while sometimes it does a great job of explaining what is happening it doesn't do as good a job explaining why at times. The formulas for some forces as just thrown out as obvious, and indeed they would be derivable easily if you have the right background. But they deserve two more sentences of explanation in many cases.
And some things are simply hand waived at and ignored. For example when discussing the billowing of bat wings we are told "It is clear there can be in practice be little or no aerodynamic loss as a consequence of this change of shape". Well, I don't know why that is so clear and I won't know by reading this book.
I enjoyed it, it's an amusing book to help those who say "I don't need math in the real world" see how much math actually helps you in the real world. But in many cases it isn't going to do more than whet your appetite for explanations of why.