Wednesday, September 30, 2020

The Perfectionists: How Precision Engineers Created the Modern World

Precision engineering is critically important for our modern world, yet usually taken for granted. However, it has become an integral part of our society. In this book, Simon Winchester traces how things have become more and more precise. Then he takes a step back and looks at the benefits of the non-precise. (Japan provides a good case of a culture that celebrates both the ultra-precise and the non-precise.) When there is a big disaster, such as a tsunami, the "precisely engineered" often fail, while the giant trees and other things that have redundancy survive.
Precision has enabled us to make things much smaller and more efficient. Microchips are so small that a spec of dust can ruin one. Airplane engines are both simple and complex. Minute details allow for the engine to be cooled down to prevent it from overheating. (One chapter discusses the story of an engine explosion that was caused by a minor impression in an engine.)
Attempts at providing precise measurements can be challenging. The metric system has gone through various systems of getting a more precise measurement of a meter. Precisely engineered parts allow for mass production in manufacturing. As technology advances, precision can be increased. This can be beneficial for society, but also create greater challenges when precision fails. 

No comments:

Post a Comment