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How Precision Engineers Created the Modern World

by Simon Winchester

Paperback Publication Date: 08/05/2018

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Bestselling author Simon Winchester writes a magnificent history of the pioneering engineers who developed precision machinery to allow us to see as far as the moon and as close as the Higgs boson.

Precision is the key to everything. It is an integral, unchallenged and essential component of our modern social, mercantile, scientific, mechanical and intellectual landscapes. The items we value in our daily lives – a camera, phone, computer, bicycle, car, a dishwasher perhaps – all sport components that fit together with precision and operate with near perfection. We also assume that the more precise a device the better it is. And yet whilst we live lives peppered and larded with precision, we are not, when we come to think about it, entirely sure what precision is, or what it means. How and when did it begin to build the modern world?

Simon Winchester seeks to answer these questions through stories of precision’s pioneers. Exactly takes us back to the origins of the Industrial Age, to Britain where he introduces the scientific minds that helped usher in modern production: John ‘Iron-Mad’ Wilkinson, Henry Maudslay, Joseph Bramah, Jesse Ramsden, and Joseph Whitworth. Thomas Jefferson exported their discoveries to the United States as manufacturing developed in the early twentieth century, with Britain’s Henry Royce developing the Rolls Royce and Henry Ford mass producing cars, Hattori’s Seiko and Leica lenses, to today’s cutting-edge developments from Europe, Asia and North America.

As he introduces the minds and methods that have changed the modern world, Winchester explores fundamental questions. Why is precision important? What are the different tools we use to measure it? Who has invented and perfected it? Has the pursuit of the ultra-precise in so many facets of human life blinded us to other things of equal value, such as an appreciation for the age-old traditions of craftsmanship, art, and high culture? Are we missing something that reflects the world as it is, rather than the world as we think we would wish it to be? And can the precise and the natural co-exist in society?

ISBN:
9780008241773
Category:
Inventions & inventors
Format:
Paperback
Publication Date:
08-05-2018
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Country of origin:
United Kingdom
Pages:
416
Dimensions (mm):
234x153x31mm
Weight:
0.51kg
Simon Winchester

Simon Winchester is the bestselling author of ‘Atlantic’, ‘The Man Who Loved China’, ‘A Crack in the Edge of the World’, ‘Krakatoa’, ‘The Map That Changed the World’, ‘The Surgeon of Crowthorne’ (’The Professor and the Madman’), ‘The Fracture Zone’, ‘Outposts’ and ‘Korea’, among many other titles. In 2006 he was awarded the OBE. He lives in western Massachusetts and New York City.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating

5 / 5 (1 Ratings)
  • Exactly

    by on

    Sorry I can't write a review as yet,as this will be a Christmas present for my son. He used to get into trouble at school many years ago because he was only reading technical books. I am looking forward to reading this book when he has finished it. Elenor

    p.s. although I haven't read the book I'm sure it is going to be a 5.