Book Review: Eight Amazing Engineering Stories

We’re big fans of [Bill Hammack], aka the Engineer Guy. His series of engineering videos dredge up pleasant memories of watching Mr. Wizard but spin to the adult science enthusiast. The most resent season (he calls it series #4) scratches the surface of the topics covered in his book Eight Amazing Engineering Stories, which was written with fellow authors [Patrick Ryan] and [Nick Ziech]. They provided us with a complimentary digital copy of the book to use for this review.

The conversational style found in the videos translates perfectly to the book, but as with comparing a novel to a movie, the written word allows for much more depth. For instance, we loved learning about how Apple uses anodization to dye the aluminum used for iPod cases. The same presentation style makes the topic easily understandable for anyone who took some chemistry and math in High School. But primers a sidebars offer an optional trip through the looking-glass, explaining the history behind the process, how it compares to natural materials, and what trade-offs are made in choosing this process.

Some of the other topics included are how CCD camera sensors, lead-acid batteries, mems accelerometers, and atomic clocks work. As the book progresses through all eight topics general concepts the complexity of the items being explained advances quickly. By the seventh story — which covers the magentron in a microwave oven — we’d bet the concepts challenge most readers’ cognition. But we still enjoyed every page. The book would make a great pool-side read. It would make a great graduation gift (too bad we missed that time of year) but keep it in mind for any science minded friends or relatives. You can see [Bill's] own description of the book and all its formats in the clip after the break.

TLDR: Buy it or give it as a gift

Comments

  1. anonymous says:

    The magentron is the part of the microwave oven that turns all your food purple.

  2. adam says:

    best engineering stories i read was “skunkworks” by ben rich. totally riveting (no pun intended).

  3. dave says:

    I liked “Flying Buttresses, Entropy, and O-Rings, the Life of an Engineer”

  4. medix says:

    Henry Petroski: Why Things Break

  5. Rob says:

    Time to add some books (via an Amazon affiliate account) to the hackaday store, no? I’d but several of the ones listed here to raise some scratch for HAD.

    • charles says:

      Please do this. I loooovveee my ever expanding set of huge books on any technical subject imaginable. It is really hard to find good easy to read books that explain things well on subjects you don’t already know about. Reading “The Art of Electronics” for fun is great but it is difficult to justify the time investment vs payoff compared to things like “How to Diagnose and Fix Everything Electronic”.

      It would be great to have a resource that has both and a description for what either can do for you. Plus I could throw some scratch the way of hackaday.

      An example:

      For locksmithing and the like
      “Locks, Safes, and Security” is the bible. It is 1500 pages of raw meat going from metallurgy to Alarm systems. What it is lacking is specific detail on various safe mechanisms, modern techniques and the excellent updated version of “The Art of Manipulation”. For those things you would need the credentials to gain access to the digital version; LSS+.

      If all you want to do is learn about various locks, some bypass methods, and be able to pick 90% of the locks you will see on a daily basis, the best as of now is “Practical Lock Picking’. It borrows heavily from the previous mentioned book and has more than enough information to satiate most people’s time and curiosity. Bonus! If you have been to any security conference with a lockpick village, you have already met the author.

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