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Design Paradigms by Henry Petroski

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Vitruvius’s Auger and Galileo’s Bones

Paradigms of Limits to Size in Design

 

 

 

Perhaps no principle in design is so well known and yet so frequently forgotten as the effect of size or scale on performance. Although some of civilization’s most proud moments have been immortalized in colossal monuments to the triumph of human design ingenuity over the great forces of nature, some of history’s most embarrassing moments have come in the dramatic failures of some of the largest machines, structures, and systems ever attempted. Nowhere does the line between success and failure seem so thin as when the very greatest of our human efforts straddle it.

Some of the earliest recorded thought about design shows an awareness of a scale effect in natural ...

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