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Johns Hopkins Introductory Studies in the History of Technology

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Johns Hopkins Introductory Studies in the History of Technology

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Edison's Electric Light

The Art of Invention

Robert Friedel and Paul Israel

In September 1878, Thomas Alva Edison brashly—and prematurely—proclaimed his breakthrough invention of a workable electric light. That announcement was followed by many months of intense experimentation that led to the successful completion of his Pearl Street station four years later. Edison was not alone—nor was he first—in developing an incandescent light bulb, but his was the most successful of all competing inventions. Drawing from the documents in the Edison archives, Robert Friedel and Paul Israel explain how this came to be. They explore the process of invention through the Menlo Park notes, discussing the full range of experiments, including the testing of a host of materials, the development of such crucial tools as the world's best vacuum pump, and the construction of the first large-scale electrical generators and power distribution systems. The result is a fascinating story of excitement, risk, and competition. Revised and updated from the original 1986 edition, this definitive study of the most famous invention of America's most famous inventor is completely keyed to the printed and electronic versions of the Edison Papers, inviting the reader to explore further the remarkable original sources.

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Lessons amid the Rubble

An Introduction to Post-Disaster Engineering and Ethics

Sarah K. A. Pfatteicher

The aftermath of September 11, 2001, brought the subject of engineering-failure forensics to public attention as had no previous catastrophe. In keeping with the engineering profession's long tradition of building a positive future out of disasters, Lessons amid the Rubble uses the collapse of the World Trade Center towers to explore the nature and future of engineering education in the United States. Sarah K. A. Pfatteicher draws on historical and current practice in engineering design, construction, and curricula to discuss how engineers should conceive, organize, and execute a search for the reasons behind the failure of man-made structures. Her survey traces the analytical journey engineers take after a disaster and discusses the technical, social, and moral implications of their work. After providing an overview of the investigations into the collapse of the Twin Towers, Pfatteicher explores six related events to reveal deceptively simple lessons about the engineering enterprise, each of which embodies an ethical dilemma at the heart of the profession. In tying these themes together, Pfatteicher highlights issues of professionalism and professional identity infused in engineering education and encourages an explicit, direct conversation about their meaning. Sophisticated and engagingly written, this volume combines history, engineering, ethics, and philosophy to provoke a deep discussion about the symbolic meaning of buildings and other structures and the nature of engineering.

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