Structures Book Summary - Structures Book explained in key points
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Structures summary

James Edward Gordon

Or Why Things Don't Fall Down

4.5 (30 ratings)
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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.

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    Structures
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    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.

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    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.

    Structures Review

    Structures (1978) by James Edward Gordon is an essential read for anyone interested in understanding the fundamental principles of engineering. Here's why this book is worth your time:

    • It provides a clear and concise introduction to the concepts and principles that underpin the design and construction of structures.
    • With its practical examples and real-world applications, the book bridges the gap between theory and practice, making it highly accessible for readers.
    • The author's attention to detail and in-depth exploration of various structural elements keep the content engaging, ensuring that it is anything but boring.

    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.

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    Structures FAQs 

    What is the main message of Structures?

    The main message of Structures is understanding the fundamental principles and design concepts of structures.

    How long does it take to read Structures?

    The estimated reading time for Structures varies depending on the reader, but it typically takes several hours. The Blinkist summary can be read in just 15 minutes.

    Is Structures a good book? Is it worth reading?

    Structures is a valuable read for gaining insights into the principles and concepts of structures. It provides a solid foundation for anyone interested in the field.

    Who is the author of Structures?

    The author of Structures is James Edward Gordon.

    What to read after Structures?

    If you're wondering what to read next after Structures, here are some recommendations we suggest:
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