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Über dieses Buch

This unique book presents a nontechnical view of the history of mechanics, from the Big Bang to present day. The impact of mechanics on the evolution of a variety of subjects is vividly illustrated, including astronomy, geology, astrophysics, anthropology, archeology, ancient history, Renaissance art, music, meteorology, modern structural engineering, mathematics, medicine, warfare, and sports. While enormous in scope, the subject matter is covered (with ample photographic support) at a level designed to capture the interest of both the learned and the curious. The book concludes with a creative and thoughtful examination of the current state of mechanics and possibilities for the future of mechanics.

Inhaltsverzeichnis

Frontmatter

Chapter 1. Mechanics and Our Ancestors

Abstract
The earliest evidence of humans using mechanics is reviewed, including the development of stone weapons, cave painting, and calendars. Early calendars evolved into stone structures such as Stonehenge and Avebury. Language and numeric systems developed shortly thereafter. Around 3,800 BCE, the Egyptians established the longest surviving culture. Their accomplishments using mechanics included pyramids, tombs, temples, mummification, and obelisks. Massive structures built using mechanics in antiquity included the Seven Ancient Wonders of the World.
David H. Allen

Chapter 2. The Greeks

Abstract
The Greeks developed the first scientific system that has stood the test of time. Along the way they solved many mechanics problems. Their tradition of writing began with Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey and was followed by the historical works of Herodotus. This tradition led to additional writings by Thucydides and others. By the sixth century BCE a scientific tradition was well underway. Principle developers of mechanics included Thales, Pythagoras, Democritus, Aristotle, Euclid, Aristarchus, Archimedes, Eratosthenes, Hipparchus, and Claudius Ptolemy. Their achievements paved the way for the Romans, who made ample use of Greek science, especially mechanics.
David H. Allen

Chapter 3. The Romans

Abstract
The Romans were the consummate builders in antiquity. Wherever they went, they constructed massive structures. Making use of the arch and the dome, they built such iconic buildings as the Coliseum and the Pantheon. They also built Hadrian’s Wall, a far-reaching network of paved roadways, towering aqueducts such as the Pont du Gard, enormous watermills, and triumphal arches. Many of these monumental achievements are still extant today, thus demonstrating the Romans’ use of mechanics.
David H. Allen

Chapter 4. Mechanics in the Middle Ages

Abstract
Mechanics progressed little during the Middle Ages, but there were nonetheless a few notable developments. For example, the Agia Sophia, San Vitale, and Basilica di San Marco were constructed during this period. Furthermore, advances in the calendar were driven by religion, as Easter became an important date for Christians. By the twelfth century, Christianity led to the development of numerous Gothic cathedrals, thus deploying practical mechanics devices across Western Europe. Simultaneously, organized education began to experience a rebirth, with universities arising at Bologna, Paris, Oxford, Cambridge, Salamanca and Padova. Mathematics developed in the Middle East by Al-Kwarizmi and others made their way to the West, principally due to the writings of Leonardo do Pisa. Ever so slowly, science began to develop once again, due in part to Bede, Robert Grosseteste, Roger Bacon, and William of Ockham. Written language also appeared once again in Western Europe, beginning with The Divine Comedy by Dante Aleghieri. But not all developments using mechanics were positive, as torture devices seemed to reach new levels of depravity.
David H. Allen

Chapter 5. The Artistic Renaissance

Abstract
Although science was not developing rapidly, new-found wealth in the early fourteenth century drove the development of art, and many of the most successful artists were by necessity required to deploy mechanics in new and ingenious ways. Among these were Giotto di Bondone, Filippo Brunelleschi, Leonardo Da Vinci, Michelangelo Buonarroti, and Gian Lorenzo Bernini, as painting, sculpture, clock towers, and domes led the way toward the coming scientific renaissance.
David H. Allen

Chapter 6. Finding Our Way

Abstract
By the fifteenth century it became evident that the Julian calendar was in error. Over the course of the succeeding two centuries science was driven by this problem, as well as the quest to circle the Earth. A principle necessity to exploration was the development of the ship, a problem involving mechanics. Explorers such as Columbus, Cabral, Magellan, Drake, and Cook all faced challenges involving mechanics
David H. Allen

Chapter 7. Mechanics Reborn

Abstract
The fifteenth century produced the first great scientific development in mechanics after the Middle Ages with the publication of Nicolas Copernicus’ Der Revolutionibus Orbium. Thereafter, astronomy took center stage, as scientists such as Tycho Brahe, Johannes Kepler, and Galileo Galilei made monumental gains in the science of mechanics. In addition, René Descartes invented analytic geometry, and Isaac Newton produced the first universal laws. In mechanics, Blaise Pascal produced the first computer, called the Pascaline. Mathematics flowered, and with it the tools necessary to model mechanics precisely. By the early eighteenth century mechanists such as the Bernoullis and Leonhard Euler were attempting to model deformable bodies.
David H. Allen

Chapter 8. Music and Measuring

Abstract
The evolution of both science and engineering related to mechanics was profoundly influenced by music. In particular, musical instruments evolved dramatically during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, including pipe organs, harpsichords, pianofortes, and violins. In turn, the evolution of these instruments helped to pave the way for an understanding of the production and propagation of sound, a problem in mechanics. During the same period of time, the accurate measurements of both distance and time became important. For example, in order to measure longitude on the Earth’s surface, it was necessary to develop a device for measuring time that was not affected by inertial effects onboard a ship. These two problems in mechanics were resolved during this period of time.
David H. Allen

Chapter 9. Continuum Mechanics, Art and Structures

Abstract
The publication of Isaac Newton’s Principia in the late seventeenth century paved the way for dramatic developments in the eighteenth century. By the beginning of the nineteenth century, scientists were prepared to take on the challenge of the mechanics of three-dimensional deformable bodies. Theories governing the mechanics of fluids, solids, and the diffusion of heat were formulated using the newly developed platform called continuum mechanics. By the middle of the nineteenth century, the concepts of classical mechanics had reached a degree of maturity. It was left for the Impressionist artists of the latter third of the century to push art in a direction that could be said to have been the prelude to moving beyond the bounds of continuum mechanics. At the same time, engineers began using the new-found theoretical models to develop a field of mechanics termed structural mechanics.
David H. Allen

Chapter 10. Weather

Abstract
The study of weather is not normally considered to be a field of mechanics by most scientists and engineers. However, as this chapter demonstrates, it is indeed a field of applied mechanics, although there is also chemistry and thermodynamics to deal with when considering weather on Earth. Nonetheless, much of our weather can be explained by the concepts embodied within mechanics, as demonstrated in this chapter.
David H. Allen

Chapter 11. Life Cycles

Abstract
By the turn of the twentieth century scientists were utilizing mechanics to develop profoundly new interpretations of our modern world. Concepts such as The Big Bang have indeed become well accepted nowadays. In addition, the field of geophysics has dramatically improved our understanding of our world. Among the new developments are the physics of meteors, tectonic plates, volcanoes, and glaciers. All of these phenomena seem to have inherent life spans, as demonstrated in this chapter.
David H. Allen

Chapter 12. The Quality of Our Lives

Abstract
There is no doubt that mechanics has had an enormous impact on the quality of life for humans, as well as many other species on this planet. Most of the time it has been for the better, but not always, as we will see in this chapter (see also Chap.​ 7).
David H. Allen

Chapter 13. Mechanics Today

Abstract
Mechanics may now be said to have reached maturity, as the effects of electromagnetism become more profound in our everyday lives. Still, mechanics is ubiquitous, relating to such concepts as time-space. Furthermore, the development of the modern computer has enabled us to dramatically expand our ability to model important physical phenomena using mechanics, thus resulting in a new field of mechanics called computational mechanics. Perhaps even more importantly, we have been able to develop new materials, such as composites and so-called active materials, at least in part due to mechanics. Finally, the deployment of mechanics concepts in the engineering fields has resulted in a new age of massive construction projects, including canals, dams, and tunnels. Nonetheless, mechanically related failures such as the Tacoma Narrows Bridge collapse and the Challenger disaster are not uncommon in our world.
David H. Allen

Chapter 14. The Future of Mechanics

Abstract
Mechanics may have peaked in our world, but it will continue to play a major role in the future of humankind. For example, in the newly developed field of biomechanics, mechanically inspired surgical devices will dramatically alter the medical field. And perhaps in the not-too-distant future, we will meet extra terrestrials. Mechanics will play a significant role in their physiques. And finally, how will our species meet our ultimate demise? Once again, mechanics is likely to play an important role in the extinction of humankind. In the end, mechanics has played and will continue to play a profound role in our universe.
David H. Allen

Errata to: How Mechanics Shaped the Modern World

Without Abstract
David H. Allen

Backmatter

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