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The Essential Engineer: Why Science Alone Will Not Solve Our Global Problems
por Henry Petroski
From the acclaimed author of The Pencil and To Engineer Is Human, The Essential Engineer is an eye-opening exploration of the ways in which science and engineering must work together to address our world’s most pressing issues, from dealing with climate change and the prevention of natural disasters to the development of efficient automobiles and the search for renewable energy sources. While the scientist may identify problems, it falls to the engineer to solve them. It is the inherent see more
practicality of engineering, which takes into account structural, economic, environmental, and other factors that science often does not consider, that makes engineering vital to answering our most urgent concerns.
Henry Petroski takes us inside the research, development, and debates surrounding the most critical challenges of our time, exploring the feasibility of biofuels, the progress of battery-operated cars, and the question of nuclear power. He gives us an in-depth investigation of the various options for renewable energy—among them solar, wind, tidal, and ethanol—explaining the benefits and risks of each. Will windmills soon populate our landscape the way they did in previous centuries? Will synthetic trees, said to be more efficient at absorbing harmful carbon dioxide than real trees, soon dot our prairies? Will we construct a “sunshade” in outer space to protect ourselves from dangerous rays? In many cases, the technology already exists. What’s needed is not so much invention as engineering.
Just as the great achievements of centuries past—the steamship, the airplane, the moon landing—once seemed beyond reach, the solutions to the twenty-first century’s problems await only a similar coordination of science and engineering. Eloquently reasoned and written, The Essential Engineer identifies and illuminates these problems—and, above all, sets out a course for putting ideas into action.
Photograph of The New York Times Building (c) David Sundberg/Esto
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Trapped Under the Sea: One Engineering Marvel, Five Men, and a Disaster Ten Miles Into the Darkness
por Neil Swidey
The harrowing story of five men who were sent into a dark, airless, miles-long tunnel, hundreds of feet below the ocean, to do a nearly impossible job—with deadly results
A quarter-century ago, Boston had the dirtiest harbor in America. The city had been dumping sewage into it for generations, coating the seafloor with a layer of “black mayonnaise.” Fisheries collapsed, wildlife fled, and locals referred to floating tampon applicators as “beach whistles.”
In the see more 1990s, work began on a state-of-the-art treatment plant and a 10-mile-long tunnel—its endpoint stretching farther from civilization than the earth’s deepest ocean trench—to carry waste out of the harbor. With this impressive feat of engineering, Boston was poised to show the country how to rebound from environmental ruin. But when bad decisions and clashing corporations endangered the project, a team of commercial divers was sent on a perilous mission to rescue the stymied cleanup effort. Five divers went in; not all of them came out alive.
Drawing on hundreds of interviews and thousands of documents collected over five years of reporting, award-winning writer Neil Swidey takes us deep into the lives of the divers, engineers, politicians, lawyers, and investigators involved in the tragedy and its aftermath, creating a taut, action-packed narrative. The climax comes just after the hard-partying DJ Gillis and his friend Billy Juse trade assignments as they head into the tunnel, sentencing one of them to death.
An intimate portrait of the wreckage left in the wake of lives lost, the book—which Dennis Lehane calls "extraordinary" and compares with The Perfect Storm—is also a morality tale. What is the true cost of these large-scale construction projects, as designers and builders, emboldened by new technology and pressured to address a growing population’s rapacious needs, push the limits of the possible? This is a story about human risk—how it is calculated, discounted, and transferred—and the institutional failures that can lead to catastrophe.
Suspenseful yet humane, Trapped Under the Sea reminds us that behind every bridge, tower, and tunnel—behind the infrastructure that makes modern life possible—lies unsung bravery and extraordinary sacrifice.
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1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus
por Charles C. Mann
A groundbreaking study that radically alters our understanding of the Americas before the arrival of the Europeans in 1492.
Traditionally, Americans learned in school that the ancestors of the people who inhabited the Western Hemisphere at the time of Columbus’s landing had crossed the Bering Strait twelve thousand years ago; existed mainly in small, nomadic bands; and lived so lightly on the land that the Americas was, for all practical purposes, still a vast wilderness. But as see more Charles C. Mann now makes clear, archaeologists and anthropologists have spent the last thirty years proving these and many other long-held assumptions wrong.
In a book that startles and persuades, Mann reveals how a new generation of researchers equipped with novel scientific techniques came to previously unheard-of conclusions. Among them:
• In 1491 there were probably more people living in the Americas than in Europe.
• Certain cities–such as Tenochtitlán, the Aztec capital–were far greater in population than any contemporary European city. Furthermore, Tenochtitlán, unlike any capital in Europe at that time, had running water, beautiful botanical gardens, and immaculately clean streets.
• The earliest cities in the Western Hemisphere were thriving before the Egyptians built the great pyramids.
• Pre-Columbian Indians in Mexico developed corn by a breeding process so sophisticated that the journal Science recently described it as “man’s first, and perhaps the greatest, feat of genetic engineering.”
• Amazonian Indians learned how to farm the rain forest without destroying it–a process scientists are studying today in the hope of regaining this lost knowledge.
• Native Americans transformed their land so completely that Europeans arrived in a hemisphere already massively “landscaped” by human beings.
Mann sheds clarifying light on the methods used to arrive at these new visions of the pre-Columbian Americas and how they have affected our understanding of our history and our thinking about the environment. His book is an exciting and learned account of scientific inquiry and revelation.
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How to Avoid a Climate Disaster: The Solutions We Have and the Breakthroughs We Need
por Bill Gates
In this urgent, authoritative book, Bill Gates sets out a wide-ranging, practical--and accessible--plan for how the world can get to zero greenhouse gas emissions in time to avoid a climate catastrophe.
Bill Gates has spent a decade investigating the causes and effects of climate change. With the help of experts in the fields of physics, chemistry, biology, engineering, political science, and finance, he has focused on what must be done in order to stop the planet's slide to certain see more environmental disaster. In this book, he not only explains why we need to work toward net-zero emissions of greenhouse gases, but also details what we need to do to achieve this profoundly important goal.
He gives us a clear-eyed description of the challenges we face. Drawing on his understanding of innovation and what it takes to get new ideas into the market, he describes the areas in which technology is already helping to reduce emissions, where and how the current technology can be made to function more effectively, where breakthrough technologies are needed, and who is working on these essential innovations. Finally, he lays out a concrete, practical plan for achieving the goal of zero emissions--suggesting not only policies that governments should adopt, but what we as individuals can do to keep our government, our employers, and ourselves accountable in this crucial enterprise.
As Bill Gates makes clear, achieving zero emissions will not be simple or easy to do, but if we follow the plan he sets out here, it is a goal firmly within our reach.
*This audiobook includes a downloadable PDF of charts, graphs, and pictures from the book.
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por Natasha McCarthy
The work of engineers surrounds us: from the phones in our pockets to the layout of our cities. These days, engineers even transport some of us to the moon. But the skills that brought the world clean water and telecommunications also produced polluting technologies that could threaten its future. Engineering explores the scientific, social, and philosophical implications inherent in the challenges faced by engineers throughout history. From Roman viaducts to bionic limbs, humans have used see more fascinating and diverse feats of engineering to overcome their limitations. Revealing the widespread impact that this has had on culture, knowledge and the environment, McCarthy presents a future in which engineering is crucial to saving the planet.
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Engineering Eden: The True Story of a Violent Death, a Trial, and the Fight over Controlling Nature
por Jordan Fisher Smith
The fascinating story of the century-long attempt to control nature in the American wilderness as told through the prism of a tragic death at YellowstoneWhen twenty-five-year-old Harry Walker was killed by a bear in Yellowstone Park in 1972, the civil trial prompted by his death became a proxy for bigger questions about American wilderness management that had been boiling for a century. At immediate issue was whether the Park Service should have done more to keep bears away from humans, but see more what was revealed as the trial unfolded was just how fruitless our efforts to regulate nature in the parks had always been.The proceedings drew to the witness stand some of the most important figures in twentieth-century wilderness management, including the eminent zoologist A. Starker Leopold, who had produced a landmark conservationist document in the 1950s, and all-American twin researchers John and Frank Craighead, who ran groundbreaking bear studies at Yellowstone. Their testimonies would help decide whether the government owed the Walker family restitution for Harry's death, but it would also illuminate decades of patchwork efforts to preserve an idea of nature that had never existed in the first place.In this remarkable excavation of American environmental history, nature writer and former park ranger Jordan Fisher Smith uses the story of one man's tragic death to tell the larger narrative of the futile, sometimes fatal, attempts to remake wilderness in the name of preserving it. Moving across time and between Yellowstone, Yosemite, and Glacier National Parks, Engineering Eden shows how efforts at wilderness management have always been undone by one fundamental problem-that the idea of what is "natural" dissolves as soon as we begin to examine it, leaving us with little framework to say what wilderness should look like and which human interventions are acceptable in trying to preserve it. In the tradition of John McPhee's The Control of Nature and Alan Burdick's Out of Eden, Jordan Fisher Smith has produced a powerful work of popular science and environmental history, grappling with critical issues that we have even now yet to resolve.
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The Age of Living Machines: How the Convergence of Biology and Engineering Will Build the Next Technology Revolution
por Susan Hockfield
From the former president of MIT, the story of the next technology revolution, and how it will change our lives. A century ago, discoveries in physics came together with engineering to produce an array of astonishing new technologies: radios, telephones, televisions, aircraft, radar, nuclear power, computers, the Internet, and a host of still-evolving digital tools. These technologies so radically reshaped our world that we can no longer conceive of life without them. Today, the world's see more population is projected to rise to well over 9.5 billion by 2050, and we are currently faced with the consequences of producing the energy that fuels, heats, and cools us. With temperatures and sea levels rising, and large portions of the globe plagued with drought, famine, and drug-resistant diseases, we need new technologies to tackle these problems. But we are on the cusp of a new convergence, argues world-renowned neuroscientist Susan Hockfield, with discoveries in biology coming together with engineering to produce another array of almost inconceivable technologies?next-generation products that have the potential to be every bit as paradigm shifting as the twentieth century's digital wonders. The Age of Living Machines describes some of the most exciting new developments and the scientists and engineers who helped create them. Virus-built batteries. Protein-based water filters. Cancer-detecting nanoparticles. Mind-reading bionic limbs. Computer-engineered crops. Together they highlight the promise of the technology revolution of the twenty-first century to overcome some of the greatest humanitarian, medical, and environmental challenges of our time.
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Too Good to Be True: Scottsdale and Privatization during the 1980s
por Paul Redvers Brown
This is the personal story of a very public project. In 1984, a respected Boston environmental engineering firm took on the industry’s biggest engineer-constructors to win the first municipal water treatment plant privatization project in the country. The City of Scottsdale, Arizona had embarked on the "untested" financing approach to take advantage of tax incentives that arrived with the presidency of Ronald Reagan. Because it was the first of its kind, and the water industry saw see more many more to come, this small project captured nationwide attention. As the City raced to build the treatment facilities needed to take long-awaited water supply from the Colorado River, a team of aggressive long shots took on the world of infrastructure development and finance. It’s a roller-coaster ride from big achievements to colossal blunders, seen through the eyes of an ambitious MBA, in way over his head. Ultimately, it's a cautionary tale for young professionals that there’s a lot to be gained by taking risks and even more to be learned from accepting defeat.
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The Patch: The People, Pipelines, and Politics of the Oil Sands
por Chris Turner
Bestselling author Chris Turner brings readers onto the streets of Fort McMurray, showing the myriad ways the oil sands impact our lives and demanding that we ask the question: To both fuel the world and to save it, what do we do about the Patch?The Patch is the story of Fort McMurray and the oil sands in northern Alberta, the world's second largest proven reserve of oil. But this is no conventional story about the oil business. Rather, it is a portrait of the life cycle of the Patch, see more showing just how deeply it continues to impact the lives of everyone around the world.In its heyday, the oil sands represented an industrial triumph and the culmination of a century of innovation, experiment, engineering, policy, and finance. Fort McMurray was a boomtown, the centre of a new gold rush, and the oil sands were reshaping the global energy, political, and financial landscapes. But in 2008, a new narrative emerged. As financial markets collapsed and the cold, hard, scientific reality of the Patch's effect on the environment became clear, the region turned into a boogeyman and a lightning rod for the global movement combating climate change. Suddenly, the streets of Fort McMurray were the front line of a high-stakes collision between two conflicting worldviews-one of industrial triumph and another of environmental stewardship-each backed by major players on the world stage.The Patch is a narrative-driven account of this ongoing conflict. It follows a select group of key characters whose experiences in and with the oil sands overlap in concentric narrative arcs. Through this insightful combination of global perspective and on-the-ground action, The Patch will show how the reach of the oil sands extends to all of us. From Fort Mac to the Bakken shale country of North Dakota, from Houston to London, from Saudi Arabia to the shores of Brazil, the whole world is connected in this enterprise. And it demands that we ask the question: In order to both fuel the world and to save it, what do we do about the Patch?
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What Every Engineer Should Know About Career Management
por Mike Ficco
"Thanks to their education, experience, and general philosophical orientation, many engineers fail to notice critical issues in the workplace that can directly impact their career advancement and day-to-day job satisfaction. This text focuses on career management, and the accompanying importance of human and social interactions in the office. Although framed in the engineering environment, it provides observations on people skills relevant to all occupations. Using an informal, yet see more professional style, the author takes a mentorship approach by offering suggestions and anecdotes devoid of lecturing. "
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