Saturday, May 25, 2013

Five machines that changed the world: bow, waterwheel, trebuchet, escapement, and governor

Ingenium: Five Machines That Changed the World

In his book Ingenium, physicist Mark Denny examines five devices -- the bow and arrow, the waterwheel, the counterpoise siege engine, the pendulum clock anchor escapement, and the centrifugal governor. The author combines narrative, illustrations, and even equations to cover the history of each device. As a physicist, he is able to explain the physics behind each machine, how it was used, how it changed over time, and the impact they had on the world.

From the book description:

Consider the bow and arrow, which transformed warfare by allowing soldiers to attack their enemies at a safe distance. Or the waterwheel, which enabled Old World civilizations to grind grain, pump water, and power machines during a period of extreme labor shortages. Medieval warriors engaged in an early form of biological warfare by using the trebuchet to launch dead animals or plague-ridden corpses over enormous fortress walls. The pendulum clock forever enslaved modern humans to the clock by linking the accurate measure of time to the burdens of schedules, deadlines, promptness, and tardiness. And the centrifugal governor gave rise to an entire branch of modern engineering science: feedback control.

Here's where you can learn more about the book Ingenium: Five Machines That Changed the World

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