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The Essential Engineer: Why Science Alone Will Not Solve Our Global Problems
 
 
Author
Henry Petroski.
Publisher Knopf  
Format hardcover
Product Dimensions 9.5 x 6.5 x 1 inches
ISBN 9780307272454
Pages/Publication Date 274/2010
Daedalus Item Code 20387
This item is not available.
Description
The author of The Pencil and The Book on the Bookshelf here offers an eye-opening exploration of the ways in which science and engineering must work together to address the world's most pressing issues of sustainability, from dealing with climate change and the prevention of natural disasters to the search for renewable energy sources. Henry Petroski takes us inside the research, development, and debates surrounding such critical challenges, exploring the feasibility of biofuels, the progress of battery-operated cars, and the question of nuclear power while demonstrating how, although the scientist may identify problems, it falls to the engineer to solve them. 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, says Petrosky, is not so much invention as engineering.

"For a quarter-century now, Duke University's Petroski has replaced Samuel Florman as the foremost American civil engineer explaining to lay audiences the nature of engineering and its crucial role in improving the world. Petroski has long been outraged by the persistent elevation of scientists over engineers in terms of intelligence and creativity. Yet none of Petroski's 14 books on technology has argued so aggressively as his newest that engineers do not merely apply what scientists discover. Instead, engineers seek the most appropriate solution out of several to any engineering problem—not the supposedly single solution requiring diligence rather than depth. Analyzing both historical and contemporary examples, from climate change to public health, Petroski shows how science often overlooks structural, economic, environmental and aesthetic dimensions that routinely challenge engineers. Moreover, he says, sometimes science trails technology, as when engineers had to design the first moon landing vehicles before scientists learned its surface composition. Far from being hostile toward science, Petroski pleads for continued cooperation between science and engineering."—Publishers Weekly

 
 
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