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Pushing the Limits: New Adventures in Engineering

Pushing the Limits: New Adventures in Engineering

Paperback Vintage

By (author) Aleksandar S Vesic Professor of Civil Engineering and Professor of History Henry Petroski

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  • Publisher: Vintage Books
  • Format: Paperback | 288 pages
  • Dimensions: 132mm x 198mm x 18mm | 295g
  • Publication date: 15 December 2005
  • Publication City/Country: New York
  • ISBN 10: 1400032946
  • ISBN 13: 9781400032945
  • Edition statement: Reprint
  • Sales rank: 279,115

Product description

Here are two dozen tales in the grand adventure of engineering from the Henry Petroski, who has been called America's poet laureate of technology. Pushing the Limits celebrates some of the largest things we have created-bridges, dams, buildings--and provides a startling new vision of engineering's past, its present, and its future. Along the way it highlights our greatest successes, like London's Tower Bridge; our most ambitious projects, like China's Three Gorges Dam; our most embarrassing moments, like the wobbly Millennium Bridge in London; and our greatest failures, like the collapse of the twin towers on September 11. Throughout, Petroski provides fascinating and provocative insights into the world of technology with his trademark erudition and enthusiasm for the subject.

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Author information

Henry Petroski is the Aleksandar S. Vesic Professor of Civil Engineering and a professor of history at Duke University. The author of eleven previous books, he lives in Durham, North Carolina.

Review quote

"A fascinating potpourri of history, engineering, and imagination, all presented in the fluid, humane writing style that we have come to expect from this author." --"The Washington Post Book World" "A pleasure. . . . It is a measure of Mr. Petroski's skill and sensibility that his essays about structures made of steel and stone so frequently provide a sense of that large humanity, as well." --"New York Sun" "He writes clearly about complicated subjects, and provides lucid explanations and penetrating insights." --"The New York Review of Books" "Henry Petroski turns an expert eye on the technology--and economics and vanity--behind [building]. The most compelling chapters concern disasters, from the collapse to the World Trade Center to the whip-snapping death of the Tacoma Narrows bridge. These essays are elegantly written and consistently thought-provoking." --"New Scientist" "Henry Petroski has become the main emissary from the world of engineering to the rest of us. . . . He brings clarity and good sense to his subject, making the enigmatic world of things a little less mystifying." --"Austin American-Statesman" "Petroski writes . . . with the observant eye of an engineer and the imaginative heart of a novelist." --"Los Angeles Times" "An unlikely combination of mathematical brain power and a more irrational curiosity. . . . Petroski not only can put science in laymen's terms, but also can do so without killing its magic." --"The Christian Science Monitor" "Petroski . . . asks us to see the extraordinary in the ordinary." --"Chicago Tribune" "[There is] pleasure [in] seeing Henry Petroski's playful mind at work." --"Scientific American"

Flap copy

In the ever increasing push for longer bridges, taller buildings, bigger stadiums, and grander projects of all kinds, engineers face new challenges that redefine our sense of both aesthetics and functionality. Pushing the Limits describes two dozen adventures in engineering that provide a fresh look at the past, a unique view of the present, and a telling glimpse into the future of the discipline and how it affects our lives. Henry Petroski tells the stories of significant and daring enterprises--some familiar, some virtually unknown, and some that are still only dreams--in their historical and technological contexts. Among the achievements are Philadelphia's landmark Benjamin Franklin Bridge, London's incomparable Tower Bridge, and China's ambitious Three Gorges Dam project. But pushing the limits of technology does not come without risk. Petroski also chronicles great technological disasters, such as the 1928 failure of California's St. Francis Dam, the 1999 tragedy of the Texas A&M Bonfire, and the September 11, 2001, collapse of New York's World Trade Center towers. He deals with other calamities as well, such as the 1994 earthquake that struck Southern California and the embarrassingly wobbly Millennium Bridge in London, which had to be shut down only three days after it opened. The breadth and depth of Petroski's erudition and his passionate interest in the art of design and in building have earned him the title of America's poet laureate of technology, and his exploration of the complexity of what goes into design continues to stretch the imagination.

Table of contents

Preface BRIDGES Art in Iron and Steel Bridges of America Benjamin Franklin Bridge Floating Bridges Confederation Bridge Pont de Normandie Britannia Bridge Tower Bridge Drawing Bridges An Eye-Opening Bridge Millennium Legacies Broken Bridges New and Future Bridges AND OTHER THINGS Dorton Arena Bilbao Santiago Calatrava Fazlur Khan The Fall of Skyscrapers Vanities of the Bonfire St. Francis Dam Three Gorges Dam Fuel Cells Engineers’ Dreams Engineers’ Achievements Acknowledgments and Bibliography List of Illustrations and Credits Index