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Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Masterworks of Technology: The Story of Creative Engineering, Architecture, and Design

Today's kindle find is for history buffs and technology enthusiasts: Masterworks of Technology: The Story of Creative Engineering, Architecture, and Design

In the largest sense, this book is about making colossal connections. Lewis, a professor of mechanical engineering, has undertaken the ambitious feat of showing how science and engineering synergized over time to produce today’s technologically advanced world. He supports this premise by surveying such wide-ranging topics as medieval cathedral construction, Leonardo’s notebooks and the building of a Boeing 777. Throughout, he makes astute connections between the past and the present, noting, for example, that the medieval cathedral builders’ "habits of mind and processes of design formed the foundation that would later coalesce through the advances of the Renaissance, Scientific Revolution, and Industrial Revolution to create the engineering of today." Line drawings and diagrams illustrate this connection. 

The book can be long winded and the prose awkward, particularly when Lewis moves away from the scientific realm and tries his hand at travel writing. Many chapters start with a heavy-handed statement, such as "The towering tones of the brass rising above the orchestra and organ in the great fugue that is the finale of the Saint-Saens third symphony always transplant my thoughts to the first trip that my wife and I made to France many years ago, and to where we first experienced the grandeur of medieval engineering." This turgid writing detracts from an otherwise informative look at science and engineering through the ages.

Sounds like some purple prose, there, but at least it's under $10 (unlike a lot of the non-fiction ebooks in the store!): Masterworks of Technology

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