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Henry Petroski traces the origins of the pencil back to ancient Greece and Rome, writes factually and charmingly about its development over the centuries and around the world, and shows what the pencil can teach us about engineering and technology today. From the Trade Paperback edition.
A renowned historian and engineer explores the past, present, and future of America's crumbling infrastructure. Acclaimed engineer and historian Henry Petroski explores our core infrastructure from both historical and contemporary perspectives, explaining how essential their maintenance is to America's economic health. Petroski reveals the genesis of the many parts of America's highway system--our interstate numbering system, the centerline that divides roads, and such taken-for-granted objects as guardrails, stop signs, and traffic lights--all crucial to our national and local infrastructure. A compelling work of history, The Road Taken is also an urgent clarion call aimed at American citizens, politicians, and anyone with a vested interest in our economic well-being. Physical infrastructure in the United States is crumbling, and Petroski reveals the complex and challenging interplay between government and industry inherent in major infrastructure improvement. The road we take in the next decade toward rebuilding our aging infrastructure will in large part determine our future national prosperity.
Presents case studies of inventions by engineers, explaining how they resolve technical difficulties, and how they make their inventions socially acceptable and economically feasible
This book explores the social significance of letter writing. Letter writing is one of the most pervasive literate activities in human societies, crossing formal and informal contexts. Letters are a common text type, appearing in a wide variety of forms in most domains of life. More broadly, the importance of letter writing can be seen in that the phenomenon has been widespread historically, being one of earliest forms of writing, and a wide range of contemporary genres have their roots in letters. The writing of a letter is embedded in a particular social situation, and like all other types of literacy objects and events, the activity gains its meaning and significance from being situated in cultural beliefs, values, and practices. This book brings together anthropologists, historians, educators and other social scientists, providing a range of case studies that explore aspects of the socially situated nature of letter writing.
From classical temples to twentieth century towers, engineers have learned more about design from failure than from success. The concept of error, according to the author of Design Paradigms, is central to the design process. As a way of explaining the enduring aspects of engineering design, Henry Petroski relates stories of some of the greatest engineering successes and failures of all time. These case studies, drawn from a wide range of times and places, from Ancient Greece and Rome to modern America, serve as paradigms of error and judgment in engineering design. By showing how errors were introduced in the design process and how they might be avoided, the book suggests how better quality and reliability might be achieved in designed devices, structures, and systems of all kinds. Clearly written, with striking illustrations, the book will appeal to engineering students, practicing engineers, historians of science and technology, and all those interested in learning about the process of design.
This book is the seventh in the Readings in Conservation series, which gathers and publishes texts that have been influential in the development of thinking about the conservation of cultural heritage. The present volume provides a selection of more than ninety-five texts tracing the development of the conservation of works of art on paper. Comprehensive and thorough, the book relates how paper conservation has responded to the changing place of prints and drawings in society. The readings include a remarkable range of historical selections from texts such as Renaissance printmaker Ugo da Carpi’s sixteenth-century petition to the Venetian senate on his invention of chiaroscuro, Thomas Churchyard’s 1588 essay in verse “A Sparke of Frendship and Warme Goodwill,” and Robert Bell’s 1773 piece “Observations Relative to the Manufacture of Paper and Printed Books in the Province of Pennsylvania.” These are complemented by influential writings by such figures as A. H. Munsell, Walter Benjamin, and Jacques Derrida, along with a generous representation of recent scholarship. Each reading is introduced by short remarks explaining the rationale for its selection and the principal matters covered, and the book is supplemented with a helpful bibliography. This volume is an indispensable tool for museum curators, conservators, and students and teachers of the conservation of works of art on paper.
Presents case studies of inventions by engineers, explaining how they resolve technical difficulties, and how they make their inventions socially acceptable and economically feasible

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