Super Structures: The Science of Bridges, Buildings, Dams, and Other Feats of Engineering

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JHU Press, May 6, 2010 - Mathematics - 266 pages

Ever wonder how a graceful and slender bridge can support enormous loads over truly astonishing spans? Why domes and free-standing arches survive earthquakes that flatten the rest of a city?

Physicist Mark Denny looks at the large structures around us—tall buildings, long bridges, and big dams—and explains how they were designed and built and why they sometimes collapse, topple, or burst.

Denny uses clear, accessible language to explain the physics behind such iconic structures as the Parthenon, the Eiffel Tower, the Forth Rail Bridge in Edinburgh, and Hoover Dam. His friendly approach allows readers to appreciate the core principles that keep these engineering marvels upright without having to master complex mathematical equations.

Employing history, humor, and simple physics to consider such topics as when to use screws or nails, what trusses are, why iron beams are often I-shaped, and why medieval cathedrals have buttresses, Denny succeeds once again in making physics fun.

 

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Contents

Heavyweight Engineering
1
CHAPTER 1 Building Blocks
8
CHAPTER 2 Truss in All Things High
41
CHAPTER 3 Towers of Strength
78
CHAPTER 4 Arches and Domes
106
CHAPTER 5 A Bridge Too Far
144
CHAPTER 6 Dam It
187
CHAPTER 7 The Bigger They Are the Harder They Fall
209
Highbrow Engineering Heavyweight Art
231
Technical Appendix
235
Glossary
247
Bibliography
253
Index
259
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About the author (2010)

After earning a Ph.D. in theoretical physics from Edinburgh University, Mark Denny pursued research at Oxford University from 1981 to 1984, then moved into a career in industry. He is the author of Ingenium: Five Machines That Changed the World; Blip, Ping, and Buzz: Making Sense of Radar and Sonar; Float Your Boat! The Evolution and Science of Sailing; and Froth! The Science of Beer, all of which are published by Johns Hopkins. Denny is now semi-retired and lives on Vancouver Island.

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