Structures Book Summary - Structures Book explained in key points
Listen to the Intro

Structures summary

James Edward Gordon

Or Why Things Don't Fall Down

4.5 (24 ratings)
16 mins

Brief summary

'Structures' by James Edward Gordon explores the principles and properties of structures, from bridges to buildings. It examines how these structures function and the forces that act upon them.

Table of Contents

    Summary of 8 key ideas

    Audio & text in the Blinkist app
    Key idea 1 of 8

    The study of biological and artificial structures began in the seventeenth century.

    What holds an airplane together as it moves through the air or keeps a bridge from collapsing under the strain of cars? It’s all in the design of their structure.

    A structure can be defined as a collection of materials intended to sustain loads. Our world is full of them: structures occur both in the biological and man-made world.

    Biological structures, which are of course much older, transport matter and provide living things with protection. Present-day biological structures are mostly soft, like muscle tissue or flower petals. However, there are also rigid biological structural parts, like horns, bones, teeth or tree bark.

    Artificial structures, on the other hand, are man-made. But in relative terms, humans haven’t been formally studying structures for very long at all.

    The study of structures began in the seventeenth century, thanks largely to Galileo. Galileo had to switch disciplines after the Catholic Church threatened to persecute him for his work in the field of astronomy in 1633. He left astronomy behind and began studying the strength and character of different physical materials.

    Galileo’s prestige brought greater academic attention to the subject. In the mid-1650s, scholars began researching the ways in which different materials and structures behave under heavy loads. That same century, Robert Hooke also discovered how matter behaves at an atomic level.

    Hooke wrote that a structure can only resist a load by pushing back on it with an equal force. So, if a cathedral pushes down on a foundation with its weight, the foundation will either break or push back up with an equal force. This is one of the fundamental concepts of structures and their strength.

    Want to see all full key ideas from Structures?

    Key ideas in Structures

    More knowledge in less time
    Read or listen
    Read or listen
    Get the key ideas from nonfiction bestsellers in minutes, not hours.
    Find your next read
    Find your next read
    Get book lists curated by experts and personalized recommendations.
    Shortcasts New
    We’ve teamed up with podcast creators to bring you key insights from podcasts.

    What is Structures about?

    Structures (1978) examines the fundamental, physical laws that keep the physical structures of our world intact, from man-made structures like airplanes, to biological structures like the body of a horse. These blinks outline the ways in which our structures are prone to collapse, and the critical value of scientists who perform complex calculations to keep our structures sturdy – and keep us safe.

    Best quote from Structures

    In one sense a structure is a device which exists in order to delay some event which is energetically favored.

    —James Edward Gordon
    example alt text

    Who should read Structures?

    • Students of engineering and architecture
    • Biologists, ecologists, physicists and historians of science
    • Anyone interested in how buildings stay upright

    About the Author

    James Edward Gordon was one of the founders of the field of material science. He wrote several books in a highly respected academic career and was awarded the British Silver Medal of the Royal Aeronautical Society, as well as the Griffith Medal of the Materials Science Club.

    Categories with Structures

    Book summaries like Structures

    People ❤️ Blinkist 
    Sven O.

    It's highly addictive to get core insights on personally relevant topics without repetition or triviality. Added to that the apps ability to suggest kindred interests opens up a foundation of knowledge.

    Thi Viet Quynh N.

    Great app. Good selection of book summaries you can read or listen to while commuting. Instead of scrolling through your social media news feed, this is a much better way to spend your spare time in my opinion.

    Jonathan A.

    Life changing. The concept of being able to grasp a book's main point in such a short time truly opens multiple opportunities to grow every area of your life at a faster rate.

    Renee D.

    Great app. Addicting. Perfect for wait times, morning coffee, evening before bed. Extremely well written, thorough, easy to use.

    People also liked these summaries

    4.7 Stars
    Average ratings on iOS and Google Play
    29 Million
    Downloads on all platforms
    10+ years
    Experience igniting personal growth
    Powerful ideas from top nonfiction

    Try Blinkist to get the key ideas from 7,000+ bestselling nonfiction titles and podcasts. Listen or read in just 15 minutes.

    Start your free trial