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Structures: Or Why Things Don't Fall Down Paperback – Oct 4 2005

4.3 out of 5 stars 19 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 424 pages
  • Publisher: Da Capo Press; 2nd ed. edition (July 10 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0306812835
  • ISBN-13: 978-0306812835
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 2.7 x 22.9 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 680 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars 19 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #39,607 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

About the Author

J. E. Gordon , a professor at the University of Reading, is renowned for his research in plastics, crystals, and new materials.


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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a highly readable book for students and professionals alike.Gordon has added new material on the mechanical properties of biological tissue which I found fascinating. Gordon has wit and humor for such dry subject matter. The book was a great refresher for me and reminded me how to intuit how structures behave under loads.
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Format: Paperback
In the wonderful tradition of Sagan, Cousteau and Asimov, Professor Gordon shows us that science and technology need not be abstruse and tedious, but can be made both pleasant and fascinating. Structures, or Why Things Don't Fall Down stands perfectly well on its own, but the best benefits are to be derived when reading it in tandem with its sister publication, The New Science of Strong Materials. In both books, Professor Gordon strikes the difficult balance between the ease of exposition and the exactness of detail that characterises only the very best of scientific popularisations. He combines his technical presentation with a warm and self-deprecating wit that will have you feeling that you are not being lectured to, so much as enjoying an engaging explanation from a friend.
For example, in a typical moment of whimsy, Professor Gordon speculates upon the benefits of attaching army surplus chicken feathers onto motor cars - a suggestion designed to evoke a humourous image, except that his preceding explication on the structural properties of feathers is done so well that it lends the idea a certain fanciful credence. The pages are filled with such moments. Professor Gordon delights in drawing parallels between the unlikeliest of phenomena - how an intelligent reflection on the properties of worms led him to the design of a better anchor bracket, or how his introduction to a circus proprietor's somewhat self-conscious invention ended up improving everything from military aircraft to household doors. Through the liberal use of such anecdotes, he leads us, gently but inexorably, to a fuller understanding of the interconnectedness of the physical world.
While his book deals with abstract ideas, Professor Gordon comes across clearly as a practical man.
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Format: Paperback
This book could even give Stress Analysis a good name. The author does an exceedingly good job of explaining the property or behavior of a material. He then proceeds to demonstrate the direct relationship between the properties and how the material is utilized and how it affects of the overall design of the structure. The book discusses why construction steel really is the preferred material for most large structures. Comparisons of soft metal chain vs. high tensile strength suspension bridges or bi-plane vs. monoplane design are discussed. I would recommend this for anybody that wants a well rounded basic understanding of why structures are the designed the way they are. The math is at a minimum, the concepts are very well explained and real world examples are used frequently to keep it interesting. The author's career has exposed him to a multitude of design failures and successes. He readily explains them along with his philosophy of design and accident prevention. This is another one of those books that can in a few chapters explain the major goals and problems in the modern field of design and materials science.
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Format: Paperback
My boss gave me this book when I arrived at my first job, and it changed the way I saw the world. It covers the basics of structural engineering from cathedrals to clothing, and does so with a blend of historical references and dry British humor that makes it delightful to read. Only basic math is used. The emphasis is on the basic principles (tension, compression, shear, etc.)and how they apply to real-world examples, ranging from bridge trusses to bias-cut fabrics and bat wings. I'd recommend this book for anyone who's curious about how things work. My sole complaint is that this edition is a bit bulky and might seem intimidating, but that's because the print is fairly large. I preferred the earlier British Penguin edition which was much more compact.
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Format: Paperback
I first read both Structures and Gordon's other book, The New Science of Strong Materials, in the early '80's. I have read them several times since, and am constantly trying to find them because I keep giving them away to people. When I read Gordon's explanations of the history and present state of the engineering art, I look at things as diverse as cathedrals and dogs' bladders in a new way. I remember my training in the more equation-heavy disciplines, and I can compare my 16 years of experience in engineering to the words in the book and say, "Oh yes, that's just the way it is," or "Oh, so that's why that happened. Too bad I didn't think of it at the time."
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This book was gifted to me by my late father in 1980s when I started my undegraduate studies in Civil Engineering (it may still be shelved in the family library back home). I was having conceptual problems in understanding the matter and had a loss of interest in the field of my studies as a result. This book cleared my concept and developed my interest back in civil engineering structures. The author has descibed many concepts in simple layman's terms often giving examples from real life. However, it is certainly not 'Structural Analysis for Dummies'. Although I have never practiced Civil Engineering (I have been in regulatory compliance and sometimes in strategic planning / organizational redesign for financial institutions), I am buying this book again from Amazon as I have always tried to keep in touch with my first love - structures, often finding avenues for transfer of knowledge. The point I am trying to make it is that you may need more technical books if you are majoring in civil engineering or are involved in one of its areas at a professional level. This book, on the other hand, is for clearing the concepts at beginning level of undergraduate studies in civil engineering or for bringing out of the box mentality if you are working in another professional area.
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