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Structures: Or Why Things Don't Fall Down
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Structures: Or Why Things Don't Fall Down

4.13 of 5 stars 4.13  ·  rating details  ·  243 ratings  ·  22 reviews
For anyone who has ever wondered why suspension bridges don't collapse under eight lanes of traffic, how dams hold back-or give way under-thousands of gallons of water, or what principles guide the design of a skyscraper or a kangaroo, this book will ease your anxiety and answer your questions. J. E. Gordon strips engineering of its confusing technical terms, communicating ...more
Paperback, 395 pages
Published July 10th 2003 by Da Capo Press (first published 1978)
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Fraser Kinnear
What an incredible book! The best layman's introduction to a scientific topic that I've read since Feynman's QED. The author is also hilariously British and doesn't waste an opportunity to rag on the French.

Much of what I write below is copied verbatim from the text, but am too lazy to identify what with appropriate quotes.

These notes constitute about the first 175 pages, I should get around to documenting what I learned in the back half at some point.

basic definitions
- Streess = s= load / area
Simon Bostock
Consistently illuminating - I read this book with the intention of seeing how learning about physical/engineering structures would translate/resonate for Organisational Development.

And it does. Gordon doesn't see a 'clear distinction between material and structure', for example - which I think is a really interesting insight.

It's fun, there's lots of interestingly powerful new words to learn, and, although it's very engineer-ish, I managed to grok most of it.
Nothing has fallen on me since I read this book.
Tom Lee
A charming introduction to the science of structural engineering. This is the best kind of science book: one written by a distinguished expert at the end of his career, when s/he has a lifetime of perspective, anecdotes and wry observations to offer. The very British Gordon is a charming guide -- my favorite parts involved him giving historical French engineers a hard time -- and though I doubt many will emerge from reading this volume with an understanding of how to apply the principles under d ...more
I learned of this book from an advertisement by The Folio Society. I wasn’t interested enough to order their edition (@$64.95), so I checked with our local library and, sure enough, they had a copy. It was a publication by the Scientific American Library, and was profusely illustrated. Frankly, it reminded me of my days in school, taking courses in Mechanics or Materials Science. It would have made an excellent secondary text fo
Aug 25, 2013 Zenko rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2013
Este libro me ha resultado muy interesante, habla de lo divino y lo humano, todo ello relacionado, de alguna manera, con las estructuras. Introduce con ejemplos sencillos y entendibles la elasticidad, la tensión y compresión.

Explica un montón de cosas, como por ejemplo porque algunos edificios tienen la forma que tienen, por qué las vigas tienen la característica forma de I a la que estamos acostumbrados o porque los modistos diseñan la ropa de la forma en que lo hacen.

Columnas, paredes, puentes
Feb 25, 2008 Tim rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: smart people who want to know why things don't fall down
Recommended to Tim by: George Dyson & Maclen Marvit
Shelves: engineering
Very excellent book on the fundamentals of structural engineering, written for the intelligent non-engineer. Gordon doesn't shy away from details, but neither does he hesitate to calculate the Poisson ratio of his tummy whilst taking a bath, or describe the functioning of a bat's wing.

My only problems with Gordon are his occasional dismissals of the reasoning powers of the fairer sex, but one can only expect such narrow views of the world from a British engineer writing at the end of the 70s.
A really excellent science book. Gordon makes structural engineering fascinating (not the easiest task) and really spurs you to think about the world around you. The title hints at his willingness to question assumptions and tackle at the most basic level why things operate the way they do. There are also lots of good historical anecdotes of how the science evolved and acts of engineering derring-do and sacrifices.
The final chapter, indeed, the final paragraph is so worth the price of admission! A Crie de Coeur to engineers, architects and designers to ornament your work! It is the decoration - what I have called for years "the fiddly bits around the edges" - borrowing a phrase from Douglas Adams - that are the important, life affirming and giving elements of an artifact.
I am by no means an engineer or do I know much about the subject. That is why when someone showed this book to me it made me want to learn more on the subject. Gordon does a good job making this book enjoyable to read and easy to understand. This is the kind of book I feel is hard to rate but I did find it interesting and informative.
Hallie Taylor
Sep 06, 2007 Hallie Taylor rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: folks who are interested in how things go together
I see that there is now a newer version of this book (2003), but this is the one I read for a Biomechanics class in college. It's great. It will tell you about ships that failed because of mis-engineering and it discusses structures through engineering principles without getting bogged down in computations.
Warren Long
I like books which start at the basics, and then move on to stuff that I can follow and learn, and then move on to stuff beyond me. This book is a fun read, and anyone can learn to understand why we build things as we do, and why they do fall down every now and then.
Great book for the budding Stress Analyst. This book goes down to the atomic level on explaining why we don't fall through the floor. After reading this book you will be seeing stress strain diagrams and moments!
Will Green
One of three books that I found on here that are a part of my life. The other two aren't listed: Gracian's "El Criticon" and Cheng ZhongYing's book on C-Theory
Everyone who is not an engineer (and anyone toying with the idea of becoming an engineer) should read this book. So many things will begin to make sense...
Lisa Redmond
Worth 5 stars alone because I learned how to destroy arched bridges and why moats are built. Great stuff and good reading for any military officer.
Kozmo Kliegl
A good introduction to the basics of engineering and quite a few mistakes before we got it right.
Interesting, especially having worked around cement industry.
Andrew Thompson
Interesting but quite hard work for a non-engineer.
Physics from a different point of view. Interesting, although the social commentary in this day and age made me cringe.
Roop Surana
yet to explore..
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“structure has been defined as ‘any assemblage of materials which is intended to sustain loads’, and the study of structures is one of the traditional branches of science. If an engineering structure breaks, people are likely to get killed, and so engineers do well to investigate the behaviour of structures with circumspection. But, unfortunately, when they come to tell other people about their subject, something goes badly wrong, for they talk in a strange language, and some of us are left with the conviction that the study of structures and the way in which they carry loads is incomprehensible, irrelevant and very boring indeed. Yet structures are involved in our lives in so many ways that we cannot really afford to ignore them: after all, every plant and animal and nearly all of the works of man have to sustain greater or less mechanical forces without breaking, and so practically everything is a structure of one kind or another. When we talk about structures we shall have to ask, not only why buildings and bridges fall down and why machinery and aeroplanes sometimes break, but also how worms came to be the shape they are and why a bat can fly into a rose-bush without tearing its wings. How do our tendons work? Why do we get ‘lumbago’? How were pterodactyls able to weigh so little? Why do birds have feathers? How do our arteries work? What can we do for crippled children? Why are sailing ships rigged in the way they are? Why did the bow of Odysseus have to be so hard to string? Why did the ancients take the wheels off their chariots at night? How did a Greek catapult work? Why is a reed shaken by the wind and why is the Parthenon so beautiful? Can engineers learn from natural structures? What can doctors and biologists and artists and archaeologists learn from engineers? As it has turned out, the struggle” 0 likes
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