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Book Review: Engineers: From Great Pyramids to Pioneers of Space Travel , Edited by Adam Hart Davis

Engineers: From Great Pyramids to Pioneers of Space Travel edited by Adam Hart Davis is an excellent compendium on historic engineering feats of the Egyptians, Romans, Chinese, Ancient Persians, and others. The production describes the workings of engineering feats of antiquity and relates them to the modern era.

For instance, the qanat provided an elemental water management system which is still in existence today. The Persians built qanats due to the arid nature of the land and the need to move water great distances. Once a qanat is built, it can exist for a long time, if maintained continuously. These applications could be used today in places like Africa. In addition, there are possibilities for combining qanat applications with solar energy and desalination plants to bring fresh water to arid areas.

The book explains how Guo Shujing designed a water system to move water in the Shenshan Mountains through irrigation canals and a man-made channel. Guo utilized the Baifu spring in the Shenshan Mountain. He designed a 30 km channel to transport the water nearly 20 miles to Dadu. He proposed connecting the water supply across river basins.

Next, he constructed new canals with sluice gates to manage high water levels. A sluice gate is a metallic plate that slides in grooves into the sides of a channel. Sluice gates are employed to control the water levels and flow rates in rivers and canals. The application can help manage excess water due to flooding. Huge storage tanks were set off to the side at Kunming Lake. Guo Shujing is considered a master hydraulics engineer for his time according to Davis.

Vitruvius standardized piping systems in Rome to facilitate management of the water supply. Ultimately, a 3600′ Trajan Bridge was built across the Danube. The presentation includes pictures of the piping systems and bridge infrastructure. The book provides examples of how engineers managed considerable technological feats in their lifetime. For instance, a 16th century Ctesibiu pump lifts water in great quantities. Brunelleschi designed the dome of Santa Maria which is the largest brick dome on earth. Galileo’s pendulum and DaVinci’s
flying machine designs are included to round out the scientific coverage in the book.

Engineers is an excellent reference for explaining the linkages between ancient and modern engineering systems and processes. The presentation is very understandable with numerous charts and full color pictures to illustrate the complex concepts set forth. In addition, the book could be useful for a wide constituency of engineering/infrastructure planners in both private industry and the government.

About Dr Joseph S Maresca

I've taught approx. 34 sections of collegiate courses including computer applications, college algebra, collegiate statistics, law, accounting, finance and economics. The experience includes service as a Board Director on the CPA Journal and Editor of the CPA Candidates Inc. Newsletter. In college, I worked as a statistics lab assistant. Manhattan College awarded a BS in an allied area of operations research. The program included courses in calculus, ordinary differential equations, probability, statistical inference, linear algebra , the more advanced operations research, price analysis and econometrics. Membership in the Delta Mu Delta National Honor Society was granted together with the degree. My experience includes both private account and industry. In addition, I've worked extensively in the Examinations Division of the AICPA from time to time. Recently, I passed the Engineering in Training Exam which consisted of 9 hours of examination in chemistry, physics, calculus, differential equations, linear algebra, probability/ statistics, fluids, electronics, materials science/structure of matter, mechanics, statics, thermodynamics, computer science, dynamics and a host of minor subject areas like engineering economics. A very small percentage of engineers actually take and pass the EIT exam. The number has hovered at circa 5%. Several decades ago, I passed the CPA examination and obtained another license in Computer Information Systems Auditing. A CISA must have knowledge in the areas of data center review, systems applications, the operating system of the computer, disaster recovery, contingency planning, developmental systems, the standards which govern facility reviews and a host of other areas. An MBA in Accounting with an Advanced Professional Certificate in Computer Applications/ Information Systems , an Advanced Professional Certificate in Finance and an Advanced Professional Certificate in Organizational Design were earned at New York University-Graduate School of Business (Stern ). In December of 2005, an earned PhD in Accounting was granted by the Ross College. The program entrance requires a previous Masters Degree for admittance together with a host of other criteria. The REGISTRAR of Ross College contact is: Tel . US 202-318-4454 FAX [records for Dr. Joseph S. Maresca Box 646 Bronxville NY 10708-3602] The clinical experience included the teaching of approximately 34 sections of college accounting, economics, statistics, college algebra, law, thesis project coursework and the professional grading of approx. 50,000 CPA examination essays with the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants. Additionally, membership is held in the Sigma Beta Delta International Honor Society chartered in 1994. Significant writings include over 10 copyrights in the name of the author (Joseph S. Maresca) and a patent in the earthquake sciences.