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This book is written in a fairly non-linear, non-text booky kind of way and that is why you can keep reading even though it gets technical at times. Plenty of pictures and plenty of interesting graphs. It gives excellent historical examples and leaves the reader to join some of the dots.
Civilisations are often judged by what they build. It’s a good measure of skill and grasp of the mathematical principles behind successful structures. Like why strength to weight ratio is more important than just strength. The challenge has always been to make structures (anything that has to withstand forces) both light and strong. The Mongols knew it, the Romans knew it, and the nomadic tribes of the Sahara knew it, but the Modern civilisation needs to relearn it. The sheer strength of steel has been a wonderful thing, but in many ways it has led us astray. In so many applications it cannot fulfil the need to be both light and strong. There have been several design ‘prophets’ like Richard Buckminster Fuller who have spoken of the need to reduce energy waste simply by better design and better use of materials. One of the real answers is composite materials (like carbon fibre), however this book only considers their use in their infancy. Consider the airplane. In terms of its structure it was originally canvas and wood. After a couple of decades it became aluminium. Whilst there have been plenty of advances, we have not really crossed the line into the third generation of aircraft design.
Do we need such heavy trucks? There could be real economic and environmental savings by rethinking the materials we use to design transport systems. This book is good at raising the question and makes a general pointer in the direction of carbon fibre, but I am also led to think of the possibilities of single crystal diamond (which by any standards is very futuristic). This book is written in a fairly non-linear, non-text booky kind of way and that is why you can keep reading even though it gets technical at times. Plenty of pictures and plenty of interesting graphs. It gives excellent historical examples and leaves the reader to join some of the dots.
By Adriaan Beukers & Ed van Hinte - The Inevitable Renaissance of Minimum Energy Structures - 191 pages - 1998 - 010 Publishers - Rotterdam