The New Science of Strong Materials

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by J.E. Gordon

J. E. Gordon's classic introduction to the properties of materials used in engineering answers some fascinating and fundamental questions about how the structural world around us works. Gordon focuses on so-called strong materials--such as metals, wood, ceramics, glass, and bone--explaining in engaging and accessible terms the unique physical and chemical basis for their inherent structural qualities. He also shows how an in-depth understanding of these materials’ intrinsic strengths--and weaknesses--guides our engineering choices, allowing us to build the structures that support our society. This work is an enduring example of first-rate scientific communication. Philip Ball's introduction describes Gordon's career and the impact of his innovations in materials research, while also discussing how the field has evolved since Gordon wrote this enduring example of first-rate scientific communication.

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Stephenson had large wrought-iron boiler plates available and he also had the courage of his calculations... The idea found its best-known expression in the Menai railway bridge opened in 1850. Stephenson's beams, which weighed 1,500 tons each, were built beside the Straits and were floated into position between the towers on rafts across a swirling tide. They were raised rather over a hundred feet up the towers by successive lifts with primitive hydraulic jacks. All this was not done without both apprehension and adventure; they were giants on the earth in those days.

— J.E. Gordon, The New Science of Strong Materials