Structural Engineer Quotes

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Passion makes a person stop eating, sleeping, working, feeling at peace. A lot of people are frightened because, when it appears, it demolishes all the old things it finds in its path. No one wants their life thrown into chaos. That is why a lot of people keep that threat under control, and are somehow capable of sustaining a house or a structure that is already rotten. They are the engineers of the superseded. Other people think exactly the opposite: they surrender themselves without a second thought, hoping to find in passion the solutions to all their problems. They make the other person responsible for their happiness and blame them for their possible unhappiness. They are either euphoric because something marvelous has happened or depressed because something unexpected has just ruined everything. Keeping passion at bay or surrendering blindly to it - which of these two attitudes is the least destructive? I don't know.
Paulo Coelho (Eleven Minutes)
I do not want to drive across a bridge designed by an engineer who believed the numbers in structural stress models are relative truths.
R.C. Sproul (Choosing My Religion)
I could see the road ahead of me. I was poor and I was going to stay poor. But I didn't particularly want money. I didn't know what I wanted. Yes, I did. I wanted someplace to hide out, someplace where one didn't have to do anything. The thought of being something didn't only appall me, it sickened me. The thought of being a lawyer or a councilman or an engineer, anything like that, seemed impossible to me. To get married, to have children, to get trapped in the family structure. To go someplace to work every day and to return. It was impossible. To do things, simple things, to be part of family picnics, Christmas, the 4th of July, Labor Day, Mother's Day . . . was a man born just to endure those things and then die? I would rather be a dishwasher, return alone to a tiny room and drink myself to sleep.
Charles Bukowski
Generally, the craft of programming is the factoring of a set of requirements into a a set of functions and data structures.
Douglas Crockford (JavaScript: The Good Parts)
No one wants their life thrown into chaos. That is why a lot of people keep that threat under control, and are somehow capable of sustaining a house or a structure that is already rotten. They are the engineers of the superseded
Paulo Coelho
To the rocket scientist, you are a problem. You are the most irritating piece of machinery he or she will ever have to deal with. You and your fluctuating metabolism, your puny memory, your frame that comes in a million different configurations. You are unpredictable. You're inconstant. You take weeks to fix. The engineer must worry about the water and oxygen and food you'll need in space, about how much extra fuel it will take to launch your shrimp cocktail and irradiated beef tacos. A solar cell or a thruster nozzle is stable and undemanding. It does not excrete or panic or fall in love with the mission commander. It has no ego. Its structural elements don't start to break down without gravity, and it works just fine without sleep. To me, you are the best thing to happen to rocket science. The human being is the machine that makes the whole endeavor so endlessly intriguing.
Mary Roach (Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void)
I didn’t particularly want money. I didn’t know what I wanted. Yes, I did. I wanted someplace to hide out, someplace where one didn’t have to do anything. The thought of being something didn’t only appall me, it sickened me. The thought of being a lawyer or a councilman or an engineer, anything like that, seemed impossible to me. To get married, to have children, to get trapped in the family structure. To go someplace to work every day and to return. It was impossible. To do things, simple things, to be part of family picnics, Christmas, the 4th of July, Labor Day, Mother’s Day … was a man born just to endure those things and then die? I would rather be a dishwasher, return alone to a tiny room and drink myself to sleep.
Charles Bukowski (Ham on Rye)
Organizations which design systems are constrained to produce systems which are copies of the communication structures of these organizations.
Frederick P. Brooks Jr. (The Mythical Man-Month: Essays on Software Engineering)
Mathematics is to the scientist and the engineer a tool, to the professional mathematician a religion, but to the ordinary person a stumbling-block.
J.E. Gordon (Structures: Or Why Things Don't Fall Down)
She’d read a lot of discussions about 9/11, obviously, but contributions from structural engineers had been conspicuous by their absence.
Mick Herron (Real Tigers (Slough House, #3))
By documenting a design, the designer exposes himself to the criticisms of everyone, and he must be able to defend everything he writes. If the organizational structure is threatening in any way, nothing is going to be documented until it is completely defensible.
Frederick P. Brooks Jr. (The Mythical Man-Month: Essays on Software Engineering)
The train resembles the Soviet type and is quite comfortable, but all socialist structures I have ever encountered have toilets stemming from a single model engineered by the Orthodox Church in Tsarist Russia to ensure that man never be allowed to forget the corruption of the flesh.
Arthur Miller (Salesman in Beijing)
The application of this knife, the division of the world into parts and the building of this structure, is something everybody does. All the time we are aware of millions of things around us - these changing shapes, these burning hills, the sound of the engine, the feel of the throttle, each rock and weed and fence post and piece of debris beside the road - aware of these things but not really conscious of them unless there is something unusual or unless they reflect something we are predisposed to see. We could not possibly be conscious of these things and remember all of them because our mind would be so full of useless details we would be unable to think. From all this awareness we must select, and what we select and calls consciousness is never the same as the awareness because the process of selection mutates it. We take a handful of sand from the endless landscape of awareness around us and call that handful of sand the world.
Robert M. Pirsig (Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry Into Values (Phaedrus, #1))
It's engineering, man. Something might look bright and shiny on the outside, but the structure's what counts.
J.D. Robb (Faithless in Death (In Death, #52))
Your psychological structure is a stone wall. If you are willing, every moment of your life can be a fantastic experience. Just the act of inhaling and exhaling can be a tremendous love affair.
Sadhguru (Inner Engineering: A Yogi's Guide to Joy)
To speak in nature's language, we must prioritize bio-based structural materials; biopolymers. Biopolymers are natural polymers produced by the cells of living organisms. We're already utilizing them in products, pharma, and even in fashion. But to deploy them on the architectural scale, we need to invest in design and construction technologies that emulate their heirarchical properties by engineering real time chemical formation.
Neri Oxman
For the record, a mechanical engineer is responsible for how just about anything is built. We make sure any type of structure or vehicle or roadway is strong, safe and will stay together.
Kristan Higgins (The Perfect Match (Blue Heron, #2))
Ray was disappointed by the (Millenium) wheel. Too well engineered, he said. He wanted the wind in his hair and a rusty handrail and the faint pssibility that the whole structure might collapse.
Mark Haddon (A Spot of Bother)
When the house fell down, it can be said, something in me opened up. Cracks help a house resolve internally its pressures and stresses, my engineer friend had said. Houses provide a frame that bears us up. Without that physical structure, we are the house that bears itself up. I was now the house.
Sarah M. Broom (The Yellow House)
Leonardo did not pursue science and engineering in order to dominate nature, as Francis Bacon would advocate a century later, but always tried to learn as much as possible from nature. He was in awe of the beauty he saw in the complexity of natural forms, patterns, and processes, and aware that nature’s ingenuity was far superior to human design. Accordingly, he often used natural processes and structures as models for his own designs.
Fritjof Capra (The Ecology of Law: Toward a Legal System in Tune with Nature and Community)
Such an AI might also be able to produce a detailed blueprint for how to bootstrap from existing technology (such as biotechnology and protein engineering) to the constructor capabilities needed for high-throughput atomically precise manufacturing that would allow inexpensive fabrication of a much wider range of nanomechanical structures.
Nick Bostrom (Superintelligence: Paths, Dangers, Strategies)
A Thoroughbred racehorse is one of God's most impressive engines. Tipping the scales at up to 1,450 pounds, he can sustain speeds of forty miles per hour. Equipped with reflexes much faster than those of the most quick-wired man, he swoops over as much as twenty-eight feet of earth in a single stride, and corners on a dime. His body is a paradox of mass and lightness, crafted to slip through air with the ease of an arrow. His mind is impressed with a single command: run. He pursues speed with superlative courage, pushing beyond defeat, beyond exhaustion, sometimes beyond the structural limits of bone and sinew. In flight, he is nature's ultimate wedding of form and purpose.
Laura Hillenbrand (Seabiscuit: An American Legend)
Wildland firefighters do not enjoy the cultural prestige that structural firefighters do. They do not wax their fire engines and cruise down the local parade route, lights flashing; they are not the subject of countless popular books and movies; major politicians do not honor their sacrifices on the Senate floor or from the Rose Garden; they do not have bagpipe bands, fancy equipment, enduring icons, or other signifiers of honor verifying the importance of their activity.
Matthew Desmond (On the Fireline: Living and Dying with Wildland Firefighters (Fieldwork Encounters and Discoveries))
It is, of course, extremely toxic, but that’s the least of the problem. It is hypergolic with every known fuel, and so rapidly hypergolic that no ignition delay has ever been measured. It is also hypergolic with such things as cloth, wood, and test engineers, not to mention asbestos, sand, and water-with which it reacts explosively. It can be kept in some of the ordinary structural metals-steel, copper, aluminium, etc.-because of the formation of a thin film of insoluble metal fluoride which protects the bulk of the metal, just as the invisible coat of oxide on aluminium keeps it from burning up in the atmosphere. If, however, this coat is melted or scrubbed off, and has no chance to reform, the operator is confronted with the problem of coping with a metal-fluorine fire. For dealing with this situation, I have always recommended a good pair of running shoes.
John Drury Clark (Ignition!: An informal history of liquid rocket propellants)
In fact, as we have seen, every subatomic particle in your body is responding in a limitless way to the great dance of energies that is the cosmos. The only reason you are not experiencing the life process in all its majesty and profundity is your current state of mental resistance. Your psychological structure is a stone wall. If you are willing, every moment of your life can be a fantastic experience. Just the act of inhaling and exhaling can be a tremendous love affair.
Sadhguru (Inner Engineering: A Yogi's Guide to Joy)
He liked to start sentences with okay, so. It was a habit he had picked up from the engineers. He thought it made him sound smarter, thought it made him sound like them, those code jockeys, standing by the coffee machine, talking faster than he could think, talking not so much in sentences as in data structures, dense clumps of logic with the occasional inside joke. He liked to stand near them, pretending to stir sugar into his coffee, listening in on them as if they were speaking a different language. A language of knowing something, a language of being an expert at something. A language of being something more than an hourly unit.
Charles Yu (Sorry Please Thank You)
The thought of being something didn't only appall me, it sickened me. The thought of being a lawyer or a councilman or an engineer, anything like that, seemed impossible to me. To get married, to have children, to get trapped in the family structure. To go someplace to work every day and to return. It was impossible. To do things, simple things, to be part of family picnics, Christmas, the 4th of July, Labor Day, Mother's Day. . . was a man born just to endure those things and then die?
Charles Bukowski (Ham on Rye)
The Universe is a quantum computer, and over time, it is simply more likely that structure comes out of it than noise. That means rules, patterns. That means a game. But spend long enough poking at it, and you start to see the game engine, the labyrinth of the quantum circuit, wires looping around each other, forwards and backwards.
Hannu Rajaniemi (The Causal Angel (Jean le Flambeur #3))
Science is an inherent contradiction — systematic wonder — applied to the natural world. In its mundane form, the methodical instinct prevails and the result, an orderly procession of papers, advances the perimeter of knowledge, step by laborious step. Great scientific minds partake of that daily discipline and can also suspend it, yielding to the sheer love of allowing the mental engine to spin free. And then Einstein imagines himself riding a light beam, Kekule formulates the structure of benzene in a dream, and Fleming’s eye travels past the annoying mold on his glassware to the clear ring surrounding it — a lucid halo in a dish otherwise opaque with bacteria — and penicillin is born. Who knows how many scientific revolutions have been missed because their potential inaugurators disregarded the whimsical, the incidental, the inconvenient inside the laboratory?
Thomas Lewis (A General Theory of Love)
A structured systems-level thinking process would consider how the elements of the system are linked in logic, in time, in sequence, and in function—and under what conditions they work and don’t work.
Guru Madhavan (Applied Minds: How Engineers Think)
Asilomar’s lack of focus on ethical issues bothered many religious leaders. That prompted a letter to President Jimmy Carter signed by the heads of three major religious organizations: the National Council of Churches, the Synagogue Council of America, and the U.S. Catholic Conference. “We are rapidly moving into a new era of fundamental danger triggered by the rapid growth of genetic engineering,” they wrote. “Who shall determine how human good is best served when new life forms are being engineered?”13 These decisions should not be left to scientists, the trio argued. “There will always be those who believe it appropriate to ‘correct’ our mental and social structures by genetic means. This becomes more dangerous when the basic tools to do so are finally at hand. Those who would play God will be tempted as never before.
Walter Isaacson (The Code Breaker: Jennifer Doudna, Gene Editing, and the Future of the Human Race)
Only by using everything and anything you know about the craft of storytelling can you make your talent forge story. For talent without craft is like fuel without an engine. It burns wildly but accomplishes nothing.
Robert McKee (Story: Substance, Structure, Style, and the Principles of Screenwriting)
Atro had once explained to him how this was managed, how the sergeants could give the privates orders, how the lieutenants could give the privates and the sergeants orders, how the captains... and so on and so on up to the generals, who could give everyone else orders and need take them from none, except the commander in chief. Shevek had listened with incredulous disgust. "You call that organization?" he had inquired. "You even call it discipline? But it is neither. It is a coercive mechanism of extraordinary inefficiency--a kind of seventh-millennium steam engine! With such a rigid and fragile structure what could be done that was worth doing?" This had given Atro a chance to argue the worth of warfare as the breeder of courage and manliness and weeder-out of the unfit, but the very line of his argument had forced him to concede the effectiveness of guerrillas, organized from below, self-disciplined. "But that only works when the people think they're fighting for something of their own--you know, their homes, or some notion or other," the old man had said. Shevek had dropped the argument. He now continued it, in the darkening basement among the stacked crates of unlabeled chemicals. He explained to Atro that he now understood why the Army was organized as it was. It was indeed quite necessary. No rational form of organization would serve the purpose. He simply had not understood that the purpose was to enable men with machine guns to kill unarmed men and women easily and in great quantities when told to do so.
Ursula K. Le Guin (The Dispossessed: An Ambiguous Utopia)
An architect is a generalist, not a specialist-the conductor of a symphony, not a virtuoso who plays every instrument perfectly. As a practitioner, an architect coordinates a team of professionals that include structural and mechanical engineers, interior designers, building-code consultants, landscape architects, specifications writers, contractors, and specialists from other disciplines. Typically, the interests of some team members will compete with the interests of others. An architect must know enough about each discipline to negotiate and synthesize competing demands while honoring the needs of the client and the integrity of the entire project.
Matthew Frederick (101 Things I Learned in Architecture School (The MIT Press))
But let it be clear that I consider human cities as a fully natural phenomenon, on a par with the mega-structures that other ecosystem engineers build for their societies—the only difference being that whereas ants, termites, corals, and beavers have been maintaining their roles at a stably modest level for millions of years, the scale of human ecosystem engineering has grown by several orders of magnitude over just a few thousand years.
Menno Schilthuizen (Darwin Comes to Town: How the Urban Jungle Drives Evolution)
Study after study shows that the very best designers produce structures that are faster, smaller, simpler, cleaner, and produced with less effort. The differences between the great and the average approach an order of magnitude.
Frederick P. Brooks Jr. (The Mythical Man-Month: Essays on Software Engineering)
What the engineers had first seen in the October coup d'état was ruin. (And for three years there had been ruin and nothing else.) Beyond that, they had seen the loss of even the most elementary freedoms. (And these freedoms never returned.) How, then, could engineers not have wanted a democratic republic? How could engineers accept the dictatorship of the workers, the dictatorship of their subordinates in industry, so little skilled or trained and comprehending neither the physical nor the economic laws of production, but now occupying the top positions, from which they supervised the engineers? Why shouldn't the engineers have considered it more natural for the structure of society to be headed by those who could intelligently direct its activity?
Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn (The Gulag Archipelago)
In my classes, we read great fiction obsessively, and then attempt to see how a writer managed to affect us. We try to understand which elements—diction, syntax, point of view and so forth—made us feel that way. After we spend several weeks reading this way, wondering how the author made us shiver like that, we try our own hand. I ask students to begin with ‘green lines,’ to isolate writing so good it makes one writer envious of another. Which parts do they wish they had written themselves? Students start to understand how their own writing works, where it ripples with energy… What they really want is to have some kind of firsthand, visceral relationship with a book—to see what it’s like to take a work apart and put it back together—using great stories as structural models, just the way the kids I grew up with in Detroit fell in love with cars by spending weekends trying to make derelict Ford Mustangs run again. When the engine finally starts, when you figure out how to make it fire, it’s an incredibly powerful learning experience.
Dean Bakopoulos
The team next needed a closer look at the reactor itself, so they brought in oil industry engineers to drill through the reactor’s reinforced-concrete containment structure. They finally broke through in the summer of 1988 after 18 months of drilling in harsh conditions.
Andrew Leatherbarrow (Chernobyl 01:23:40: The Incredible True Story of the World's Worst Nuclear Disaster)
the many artificial ways in which we distance ourselves from the earth—in the form of pavements and multi-storied structures, or even the widespread trend of wearing high heels—involves an alienation of the part from the whole and suffocates the fundamental life process. This
Sadhguru (Inner Engineering: A Yogi's Guide to Joy)
To build his cathedral dome—a self-supporting structure of close to four million bricks that is still the largest masonry dome in the world—Brunelleschi had to develop sophisticated mathematical modeling techniques and invent an array of hoists and other engineering tools. In
Walter Isaacson (Leonardo da Vinci)
The intellectual ethic of a technology is rarely recognized by its inventors. They are usually so intent on solving a particular problem or untangling some thorny scientific or engineering dilemma that they don't see the broader implications of their work. The users of the technology are also usually oblivious to its ethic. They, too, are concerned with the practical benefits they gain from employing the tool. Our ancestors didn't develop or use maps in order to enhance their capacity for conceptual thinking or to bring the world's hidden structures to light. Nor did they manufacture mechanical clocks to spur the adoption of a more scientific mode of thinking. These were by-products of the technologies. But what by-products! Ultimately, it's an invention's intellectual work ethic that has the most profound effect on us.
Nicholas Carr (The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains)
Writers have come to master nearly every trade. They are inventors and entrepreneurs of character, plot, and dialogue. They are the eager scientists that can’t wait to try out their new experiment. They are the maestros of the symphony that plays in their head, conducting what happens, where, and at what precise moment. They are engineers and architects that design the structure of their piece so it stands the test of time and continues to fire on all cylinders. They play mechanics and doctors in their revisions, hoping they prescribe the correct diagnosis to fix the piece’s 'boo boos'. They are salesmen who pitch not an idea or a product, but themselves, to editors, publishers, and more importantly, their readers. They are teachers who through their craft, preach to pupils about what works and what doesn’t work and why. Writers can make you feel, can make you think, can make you wonder, but they can also grab your hand and guide you through their maze. Similar to what Emerson stated in 'The Poet,' writers possess a unique view on life, and with their revolving eye, they attempt to encompass all. I am a writer.
Garrett Dennert
Geneticists claim to have isolated the genes responsible for vole monogamy. If the addition of a gene can turn a vole Don Juan into a loyal and loving husband, are we far off from being able to genetically engineer not only the individual abilities of rodents (and humans), but also their social structures?
Yuval Noah Harari (Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind)
The Chinese and Persians did not lack technological inventions such as steam engines which could be freely copied or bought. They lacked the values, myths, judicial apparatus and sociopolitical structures that took centuries to form and mature in the West and which could not be copied and internalised rapidly.
Yuval Noah Harari (Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind)
Any attempt to fix it with minimum effort will repair the local and obvious, but unless the structure is pure or the documentation very fine, the far-reaching effects of the repair will be overlooked. Second, the repairer is usually not the man who wrote the code, and often he is a junior programmer or trainee.
Frederick P. Brooks Jr. (The Mythical Man-Month: Essays on Software Engineering)
--Gardens, not buildings-- Great projects start out feeling like buildings. There are architects, materials, staff, rigid timelines, permits, engineers, a structure. It works or it doesn't. Build something that doesn't fall down. On time. But in fact, great projects, like great careers and relationships that last, are gardens. They are tended, they shift, they grow. They endure over time, gaining a personality and reflecting their environment. When something dies or fades away, we prune, replant and grow again. Perfection and polish aren't nearly as important as good light, good drainage and a passionate gardener. By all means, build. But don't finish. Don't walk away. Here we grow.
Seth Godin
As electrical energy can create mechanical vibrations (perceived as sound by the human ear), so in turn can mechanical vibrations create electrical energy, such as the previously mentioned ball lightning. It could be theorized, therefore, that with the Earth being a source for mechanical vibration, or sound, and the vibrations being of a usable amplitude and frequency, then the Earth's vibrations could be a source of energy that we could tap into. Moreover, if we were to discover that a structure with a certain shape, such as a pyramid, was able to effectively act as a resonator for the vibrations coming from within the Earth, then we would have a reliable and inexpensive source of energy.
Christopher Dunn (The Giza Power Plant: Technologies of Ancient Egypt)
The scale of the structure dwarfed the men and machines working in its shadow, and neither could remain near it for long. If brought too close, the engines of the concrete pumps guttered and died, and the dials of the dosimetrists’ equipment went haywire, like compass needles in a magnetic field.25 It was a phenomenon the experts could never satisfactorily explain.
Adam Higginbotham (Midnight in Chernobyl: The Untold Story of the World's Greatest Nuclear Disaster)
Opposite the gates was a low concrete building. Dozens of men were spilling out of its windowless structure and stood in dark clumps on the Pit Road. At first it looked like they were leaving chapel, but as the diesel engine roared nearer, they turned as if they were one. The miners stopped their talking and squinted to get a good look. They all wore the same black donkey jackets and were holding large amber pints and sucking on stubby doubts. The miners had scrubbed faces and pink hands that looked free of work. It seemed wrong, these men being the only clean thing for miles. Reluctantly, the miners parted and let the taxi go by. Leek watched them as they were watching him. His stomach sank. The men all had his mother’s eyes.
Douglas Stuart (Shuggie Bain)
All of them illustrate a basic principle of structure formation: when appropriate simple rules are applied to certain situations, structure results as a consequence of interacting rules. This does not mean that any combination of simple rules and situations will cause structure to form—most do not—but rule combinations that result in some kind of structure are not that uncommon.
John E. Mayfield (The Engine of Complexity: Evolution as Computation)
In order to understand how engineers endeavor to insure against such structural, mechanical, and systems failures, and thereby also to understand how mistakes can be made and accidents with far-reaching consequences can occur, it is necessary to understand, at least partly, the nature of engineering design. It is the process of design, in which diverse parts of the 'given-world' of the scientist and the 'made-world' of the engineer are reformed and assembled into something the likes of which Nature had not dreamed, that divorces engineering from science and marries it to art. While the practice of engineering may involve as much technical experience as the poet brings to the blank page, the painter to the empty canvas, or the composer to the silent keyboard, the understanding and appreciation of the process and products of engineering are no less accessible than a poem, a painting, or a piece of music. Indeed, just as we all have experienced the rudiments of artistic creativity in the childhood masterpieces our parents were so proud of, so we have all experienced the essence of structual engineering in our learning to balance first our bodies and later our blocks in ever more ambitious positions. We have learned to endure the most boring of cocktail parties without the social accident of either our bodies or our glasses succumbing to the force of gravity, having long ago learned to crawl, sit up, and toddle among our tottering towers of blocks. If we could remember those early efforts of ours to raise ourselves up among the towers of legs of our parents and their friends, then we can begin to appreciate the task and the achievements of engineers, whether they be called builders in Babylon or scientists in Los Alamos. For all of their efforts are to one end: to make something stand that has not stood before, to reassemble Nature into something new, and above all to obviate failure in the effort.
Henry Petroski
Character is like 'Structural Integrity' in the field of engineering. A construction is believed to have structural integrity when it can withstand 'impact' from anywhere and anything, functioning adequately for its desired purposes and service life, until a physical collapse proves otherwise. 'Integrity' springs from the original Latin root 'integrum', which means "Intact". A man has INTEGRITY when he remains INTACT, despite the IMPACT of forces that seek to sidetrack him. He will never confuse "what is" with "what ought to be", EVEN WHEN "what is" will work in his favour. A man who will choose, not what the world forces his hands to choose, but what aligns with his destiny and will propel him to become what he is meant to become. Such men are few, such men should be me and you.
Olaotan Fawehinmi (The Soldier Within)
In testing primality of very large numbers chosen at random, the chance of stumbling upon a value that fools the Fermat test is less than the chance that cosmic radiation will cause the computer to make an error in carrying out a "correct" algorithm. Considering an algorithm to be inadequate for the first reason but not for the second illustrates the difference between mathematics and engineering.
Harold Abelson (Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs)
Conway's Law predicts: "Organizations which design systems are constrained to produce systems which are copies of the communication structures of these organizations."[1] Conway goes on to point out that the organization chart will initially reflect the first system design, which is almost surely not the right one. If the system design is to be free to change, the organization must be prepared to change.
Frederick P. Brooks Jr. (The Mythical Man-Month: Essays on Software Engineering)
Apple raised $17 billion in a bond offering in 2013. Not to invest in new products or business lines, but to pay a dividend to stockholders. The company is awash with cash, but much of that money is overseas, and there would be a tax charge if it were repatriated to the USA. For many other companies, the tax-favoured status of debt relative to equity encourages financial engineering. Most large multinational companies have corporate and financial structures of mind-blowing complexity. The mechanics of these arrangements, which are mainly directed at tax avoidance or regulatory arbitrage, are understood by only a handful of specialists. Much of the securities issuance undertaken by Goldman Sachs was not ‘helping companies to grow’ but represented financial engineering of the kind undertaken at Apple. What
John Kay (Other People's Money: The Real Business of Finance)
Étant la plus saisissante manifestation de l'art des constructions métalliques par lesquelles nos ingénieurs se sont illustrés en Europe, elle est une des formes les plus frappantes de notre génie national moderne. Being the most striking manifestation of the art of metal structures by which our engineers have shown in Europe, it [the Eiffel Tower] is one of the most striking of our modern national genius.
Gustave Eiffel
The reason for the difference between the architectural and engineering 'climate', so to speak, is very complex. It is partly a matter of terminology, partly a matter of historical accident, and the consequent training of architects and engineers, and mostly a matter of what is commonly supposed to be the difference in content or context - architecture being concerned with producing works of art; engineering with utility structures.
Yanni Alexander Loukissas (Co-Designers: Cultures of Computer Simulation in Architecture)
We tend to think of grand organizations like corporations or empires coming about through deliberate human planning: designing the conceptual architecture for each imposing structure, brick by brick. But the shape an institution ultimately takes is not so much designed in advance by a master engineer as it is carved away by challenges to its outer boundaries, the way a coastline is partly formed by an endless battering of much smaller waves.
Steven Johnson (Enemy of All Mankind: A True Story of Piracy, Power, and History's First Global Manhunt)
There is a tendency to romanticize the abilities of the ancient Egyptians because they produced structures that were miraculous for their time and certainly would pose a serious challenge to ours. They were somehow immensely more talented with sticks and stones than modern researchers have been able to demonstrate using the same implements. When pondering the theories proffered by Egyptologists, one gets the impression that an ancient Egyptian quarry worker was like a maestro playing a complete symphony on a violin made of a cigar box and a stick and producing the quality of a Stradivarius. The argument is pleasing and poetic, but the trouble is that, metaphorically speaking, when modern scholars make a violin from a cigar box and a stick, its results are precisely what you would expect from a cigar box and a stick. So the question persists: From what instruments did the symphonic architecture of Egypt materialize?
Christopher Dunn (Lost Technologies of Ancient Egypt: Advanced Engineering in the Temples of the Pharaohs)
There is a misconception held by many Egyptian professionals, especially engineers, that informal housing is haphazardly constructed and liable to collapse. However, such precarious housing is almost unknown in informal areas. Since informal housing is overwhelmingly owner-built without use of formal contractors, it is in the owner’s own best interest to ensure that care is taken in construction. In fact, one of the main features of informal housing construction is its high structural quality, reflecting the substantial financial resources and tremendous efforts that owners devote to these buildings. It is worth noting that in the 1992 earthquake in Cairo, practically all building collapses and the resulting fatalities occurred not in informal areas, but either in dilapidated historic parts of the city or informal areas…where apartment blocks had been constructed by (sometimes) unscrupulous developers and contractors.
David Sims (Understanding Cairo: The Logic of a City Out of Control)
As we wrapped up our interview, Wood suggested three things to me. First, he suggested I reread Brave New World, written by Aldous Huxley in 1933, the same year Technocracy established itself at Columbia University. “In Brave New World, there’s no political structure,” said Wood. “The world is run by the scientists and engineers. The book was a direct attack on Technocracy, so I suggest you reread it to see what things have come to pass, and what might be ahead.
Alex Jones (The Great Reset: And the War for the World)
An engineer can’t design a successful structure without first carefully accounting for the forces of opposition (say, wind resistance or gravity). So engineers always attempt to solve problems by first identifying the obstacles to success. Now, studying behavior change, I began to understand the power and promise of applying this same strategy. It’s the very strategy that turned Andre Agassi’s tennis career around by helping him refocus on his opponents’ weaknesses.
Katy Milkman (How to Change: The Science of Getting from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be)
Dogmatic theology is, by its very nature, unchangeable. The same can be said in regard to the spirit of the law. Law was and is to protect the past and present status of society and, by its very essence, must be very conservative, if not reactionary. Theology and law are both of them static by their nature. Philosophy, law and ethics, to be effective in a dynamic world must be dynamic; they must be made vital enough to keep pace with the progress of life and science. In recent civilization ethics, because controlled by theology and law, which are static, could not duly influence the dynamic, revolutionary progress of technic and the steadily changing conditions of life; and so we witness a tremendous downfall of morals in politics and business. Life progresses faster than our ideas, and so medieval ideas, methods and judgments are constantly applied to the conditions and problems of modern life. This discrepancy between facts and ideas is greatly responsible for the dividing of modern society into different warring classes, which do not understand each other. Medieval legalism and medieval morals- the basis of the old social structure-being by their nature conservative, reactionary, opposed to change, and thus becoming more and more unable to support the mighty social burden of the modern world, must be adjudged responsible in a large measure for the circumstances which made the World War inevitable.
Alfred Korzybski (Manhood of Humanity: The Science and Art of Human Engineering (Classic Reprint))
Aided by the young George Pullman, who would later make a fortune building railway cars, Chesbrough launched one of the most ambitious engineering projects of the nineteenth century. Building by building, Chicago was lifted by an army of men with jackscrews. As the jackscrews raised the buildings inch by inch, workmen would dig holes under the building foundations and install thick timbers to support them, while masons scrambled to build a new footing under the structure. Sewer lines were inserted beneath buildings with main lines running down the center of streets, which were then buried in landfill that had been dredged out of the Chicago River, raising the entire city almost ten feet on average. Tourists walking around downtown Chicago today regularly marvel at the engineering prowess on display in the city’s spectacular skyline; what they don’t realize is that the ground beneath their feet is also the product of brilliant engineering.
Steven Johnson (How We Got to Now: Six Innovations That Made the Modern World)
The Chinese and Persians did not lack technological inventions such as steam engines (which could be freely copied or bought). They lacked the values, myths, judicial apparatus and sociopolitical structures that took centuries to form and mature in the West and which could not be copied and internalised rapidly. France and the United States quickly followed in Britain’s footsteps because the French and Americans already shared the most important British myths and social structures.
Yuval Noah Harari (Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind)
Voles are small, stout rodents resembling mice, and most varieties of voles are promiscuous. But there is one species in which boy and girl voles form lasting and monogamous relationships. Geneticists claim to have isolated the genes responsible for vole monogamy. If the addition of a gene can turn a vole Don Juan into a loyal and loving husband, are we far off from being able to genetically engineer not only the individual abilities of rodents (and humans), but also their social structures?8
Yuval Noah Harari (Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind)
With this, in a powerful sense, our Question has been answered. The world, insofar as we speak of the world of Chemistry, biology, astrophysics, engineering, and everyday life, does embody beautiful ideas. The Core, which governs those domains, is profoundly rooted in concepts of symmetry and geometry, as we have seen. And it works its will, in quantum theory, through music-like rules. Symmetry really does determine structure. A pure and perfect Music of the Spheres really does animate the soul of reality. Plato and Pythagoras: We salute you!
Frank Wilczek (A Beautiful Question: Finding Nature's Deep Design)
There is a change underway, however. Our society used to be a ladder on which people generally climbed upward. More and more now we are going to a planetary structure, in which the great dominant lower middle class, the class that determines our prevailing values and organizational structures in education, government, and most of society, are providing recruits for the other groups — sideways, up, and even down, although the movement downward is relatively small. As the workers become increasingly petty bourgeois and as middle-class bureaucratic and organizational structures increasingly govern all aspects of our society, our society is increasingly taking on the characteristics of the lower middle class, although the poverty culture is also growing. The working class is not growing. Increasingly we are doing things with engineers sitting at consoles, rather than with workers screwing nuts on wheels. The workers are a diminishing, segment of society, contrary to Marx’s prediction that the proletariat would grow and grow. I have argued elsewhere that many people today are frustrated because we are surrounded by organizational structures and artifacts. Only the petty bourgeoisie can find security and emotional satisfaction in an organizational structure, and only a middle-class person can find them in artifacts, things that men have made, such as houses, yachts, and swimming pools. But human beings who are growing up crave sensation and experience. They want contact with other people, moment-to-moment, intimate contact. I’ve discovered, however, that the intimacy really isn’t there. Young people touch each other, often in an almost ritual way; they sleep together, eat together, have sex together. But I don’t see the intimacy. There is a lot of action, of course, but not so much more than in the old days, I believe, because now there is a great deal more talk than action. This group, the lower middle class, it seems to me, holds the key to the future. I think probably they will win out. If they do, they will resolutely defend our organizational structures and artifacts. They will cling to the automobile, for instance; they will not permit us to adopt more efficient methods of moving people around. They will defend the system very much as it is and, if necessary, they will use all the force they can command. Eventually they will stop dissent altogether, whether from the intellectuals, the religious, the poor, the people who run the foundations, the Ivy League colleges, all the rest. The colleges are already becoming bureaucratized, anyway. I can’t see the big universities or the foundations as a strong progressive force. The people who run Harvard and the Ford Foundation look more and more like lower-middle-class bureaucrats who pose no threat to the established order because they are prepared to do anything to defend the system.
Carroll Quigley (Carroll Quigley: Life, Lectures and Collected Writings)
was once asked to give a talk to a group of science journalists who were meeting in my hometown. I decided to talk about the design of bridges, explaining how their form does not derive from a set of equations expressing the laws of physics but rather from the creative mind of the engineer. The first step in designing a bridge is for the engineer to conceive of a form in his mind’s eye. This is then translated into words and pictures so that it can be communicated to other engineers on the team and to the client who is commissioning the work. It is only when there is a form to analyze that science can be applied in a mathematical and methodical way. This is not to say that scientific principles might not inform the engineer’s conception of a bridge, but more likely they are embedded in the engineer’s experience with other, existing bridges upon which the newly conceived bridge is based. The journalists to whom I was speaking were skeptical. Surely science is essential to design, they insisted. No, it is not. And it is not a chicken-and-egg paradox. The design of engineering structures is a creative process in the same way that paintings and novels are the products of creative minds.
Henry Petroski (The Essential Engineer)
The Chinese and Persians did not lack technological inventions such as steam engines (which could be freely copied or bought). They lacked the values, myths, judicial apparatus and sociopolitical structures that took centuries to form and mature in the West and which could not be copied and internalised rapidly. France and the United States quickly followed in Britain’s footsteps because the French and Americans already shared the most important British myths and social structures. The Chinese and Persians could not catch up as quickly because they thought and organised their societies differently.
Yuval Noah Harari (Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind)
With everything in place, engineers have begun working towards dismantling the Sarcophagus - estimated to take five years. Assuming that’s completed before 2023, when the Designed Steel Stabilisation Structure holding up the western wall is no longer guaranteed to take the weight, work can begin on removing fuel-containing material from within Unit 4. They’ll have 100 years, which sounds like a lot, but nuclear decommissioning is a notoriously laborious process. Despite the fire at England’s Windscale nuclear plant happening all the way back in 1957, clean-up work isn’t expected to finish until 2041.
Andrew Leatherbarrow (Chernobyl 01:23:40: The Incredible True Story of the World's Worst Nuclear Disaster)
Paris. Reuters News Agency informs us that the gigantic and entirely useless structure of iron rods with which the French intend to astound visitors to the Fifteenth World Fair has finally been completed. This dangerous project is causing justified anxiety among the inhabitants of Paris. How can this interminable factory chimney be allowed to tower over Paris, dwarfing all the marvelous monuments of the capital with its ridiculous height? Experienced engineers express concern about whether such a tall and relatively slim structure, erected on a foundation only a third of its own height, is capable of withstanding the pressure of the wind.
Boris Akunin (Special Assignments (Erast Fandorin Mysteries, #5))
In the coming decades, it is likely that we will see more Internet-like revolutions, in which technology steals a march on politics. Artificial intelligence and biotechnology might soon overhaul our societies and economies – and our bodies and minds too – but they are hardly a blip on our political radar. Our current democratic structures just cannot collect and process the relevant data fast enough, and most voters don’t understand biology and cybernetics well enough to form any pertinent opinions. Hence traditional democratic politics loses control of events, and fails to provide us with meaningful visions for the future. That doesn’t mean we will go back to twentieth-century-style dictatorships. Authoritarian regimes seem to be equally overwhelmed by the pace of technological development and the speed and volume of the data flow. In the twentieth century, dictators had grand visions for the future. Communists and fascists alike sought to completely destroy the old world and build a new world in its place. Whatever you think about Lenin, Hitler or Mao, you cannot accuse them of lacking vision. Today it seems that leaders have a chance to pursue even grander visions. While communists and Nazis tried to create a new society and a new human with the help of steam engines and typewriters, today’s prophets could rely on biotechnology and super-computers.
Yuval Noah Harari (Homo Deus: A History of Tomorrow)
pack under the floor of the car. They engineered it so that the pack became an element of the car’s structure. It was an example of Musk’s policy that the designers sketching the shape of the car should work hand in glove with the engineers who were determining how the car would be built. “At other places I worked,” von Holzhausen says, “there was this throw-it-over-the-fence mentality, where a designer would have an idea and then send it to an engineer, who sat in a different building or in a different country.” Musk put the engineers and designers in the same room. “The vision was that we would create designers who thought like engineers and engineers who thought like designers,” von Holzhausen says.
Walter Isaacson (Elon Musk)
In the fuel’s diluted state, and without the possibility of contact with water, the scientists concluded there was limited risk of another explosion. By 1996, however, things had changed. Condensation and water had entered the Sarcophagus via its many holes and seeped down into the solidified fuel-lava. It reacted with the uranium within, causing a surge in radioactivity. The Sarcophagus was ten years old at that stage, and an estimated 70% probability of collapse within the subsequent decade meant money was redirected away from research and towards engineering. This dangerous situation ultimately resulted in the Designed Stabilisation Steel Structure mentioned in Chapter 5. Research conducted into the corium has since been insubstantial.
Andrew Leatherbarrow (Chernobyl 01:23:40: The Incredible True Story of the World's Worst Nuclear Disaster)
Modern architects and engineers are still trying to understand how the ancient Greeks were able to build the Parthenon in ten years when the restoration of the monument has continued for more than three decades and is still not complete. What they have learned and shared along this arduous path of rediscovery is that the Greeks were highly skilled at building visual compensations into their structures. Columns were crafted and positioned to compensate for how the eye interprets what it sees at a distance. Subtle variances in the surface of platforms, columns, and colonnades provide the appearance of geometric proportion, whereas if they had worked from the perspective of a flat datum surface, the brain would interpret the results as being slightly skewed.
Christopher Dunn (Lost Technologies of Ancient Egypt: Advanced Engineering in the Temples of the Pharaohs)
Page 548: We can imagine no recommendation for using the government to manipulate fertility that does not have dangers. But this highlights the problem: The United States already has policies that inadvertently social-engineer who has babies, and it is encouraging the wrong women. If the United States did as much to encourage high-IQ women to have babies as it now does to encourage low-IQ women, it would rightly be described as engaging in aggressive manipulation of fertility. The technically precise description of America's fertility policy is that it subsidizes births among poor women, who are also disproportionately at the low end of the intelligence distribution. We urge generally that these policies, represented by the extensive network of cash and services for low-income women who have babies, be ended.
Charles Murray (The Bell Curve: Intelligence and Class Structure in American Life)
Search engines and social networks are analog computers of unprecedented scale. Information is being encoded (and operated upon) as continuous (and noise-tolerant) variables such as frequencies (of connection or occurrence) and the topology of what connects where, with location being increasingly defined by a fault-tolerant template rather than by an unforgiving numerical address. Pulse-frequency coding for the Internet is one way to describe the working architecture of a search engine, and PageRank for neurons is one way to describe the working architecture of the brain. These computational structures use digital components, but the analog computing being performed by the system as a whole exceeds the complexity of the digital code on which it runs. The model (of the social graph, or of human knowledge) constructs and updates itself.
George Dyson (Turing's Cathedral: The Origins of the Digital Universe)
Do you really think that the Revolution is a ridiculous proposition? That we cannot engineer our own structures? What's ridiculous is the system we have now. If we were starting society anew, who among us would propose a monarchy, an aristocracy, a financial elite that exploits the earth and farms its population? If at one of the local or regional meetings that we have to govern our community someone proposed, instead of equality, that all of us, including the poorest among us, donated a percentage of our income to a super-rich family with a little old lady at its helm who would turn up annually in our parliament, draped in jewels and finery, to tell us that austerity had to continue, you'd tell them they were mental. If someone said that we should give 64 per cent of British land to 0.28 per cent of the population, we would not vote for it. If trade agreements were proposed that meant local businesses were shackled so that transnational corporations could create a farcical tyrannical economy where produce was needlessly transported around the world for their gain and to the detriment of everyone else, it would be forbidden. If energy companies said they wanted to be run for huge profit, without regulation, whilst harming the environment, we wouldn't allow it. That pharmaceutical and food companies could run their own governing bodies, flood the world with inferior and harmful products that damage and even kill the people that use them, we would not tolerate it. Here is the truth they fight so hard to suppress: to create a better world, the priority is not the implementation of new systems, though that is necessary, it is a refusal to cooperate with the obsolete and harmful structures that are already in place.
Russell Brand (Revolution)
Subsequent experiments conducted by Tom Danley in the King's Chamber of the Great Pyramid and in Chambers above the King's Chamber suggest that the pyramid was constructed with a sonic purpose. Danley identifies four resident frequencies, or notes, that are enhanced by the structure of the pyramid, and by the materials used in its construction. The notes form an F Sharp chord, which according to ancient Egyptian texts were the harmonic of our planet. Moreover, Danley's tests show that these frequencies are present in the King's Chamber even when no sounds are being produced. They are there in frequencies that range from 16 Hertz down to 1/2 Hertz, well below the range of human hearing. According to Danley, these vibrations are caused by the wind blowing across the ends of the so-called shafts—in the same way as sounds are created when one blows across the top of a bottle.
Christopher Dunn (The Giza Power Plant: Technologies of Ancient Egypt)
I stood here in this kitchen elaborating and embellishing this fantasy for some time instead of taking responsibility for what was happening around me because in truth what really tormented me was that all this filth and disorder offended my engineer’s sense of structure, everything out of place and proper alignment, everything gathering towards some point of chaos beyond which it would be impossible to restore the place to its proper order and yet I stood looking at it, locked into a silent battle with the house itself and all the things which were slowly vacating their proper place, furniture and dishes and cutlery all over the place, curtains hanging awry and chairs and tables strewn about while books and papers slid across the floor, everything slowly shifting through the house as if they had a meeting to keep somewhere else, possibly in some higher realm where all this chaos would resolve into a refined harmony which had no need of my hand or intervention
Mike McCormack (Solar Bones)
Sadhana The body responds the moment it is in touch with the earth. That is why spiritual people in India walked barefoot and always sat on the ground in a posture that allowed for maximum area of contact with the earth. In this way, the body is given a strong experiential reminder that it is just a part of this earth. Never is the body allowed to forget its origins. When it is allowed to forget, it often starts making fanciful demands; when it is constantly reminded, it knows its place. This contact with the earth is a vital reconnection of the body with its physical source. This restores stability to the system and enhances the human capacity for rejuvenation greatly. This explains why there are so many people who claim that their lives have been magically transformed just by taking up a simple outdoor activity like gardening. Today, the many artificial ways in which we distance ourselves from the earth—in the form of pavements and multi-storied structures, or even the widespread trend of wearing high heels—involves an alienation of the part from the whole and suffocates the fundamental life process. This alienation manifests in large-scale autoimmune disorders and chronic allergic conditions. If you tend to fall sick very easily, you could just try sleeping on the floor (or with minimal organic separation between yourself and the floor). You will see it will make a big difference. Also, try sitting closer to the ground. Additionally, if you can find a tree that looks lively to you, in terms of an abundance of fresh leaves or flowers, go spend some time around it. If possible, have your breakfast or lunch under that tree. As you sit under the tree, remind yourself: “This very earth is my body. I take this body from the earth and give it back to the earth. I consciously ask Mother Earth now to sustain me, hold me, keep me well.” You will find your body’s ability to recover is greatly enhanced. Or if you have turned all your trees into furniture, collect some fresh soil and cover your feet and hands with it. Stay that way for twenty to thirty minutes. This could help your recovery significantly.
Sadhguru (Inner Engineering: A Yogi's Guide to Joy)
Why is programming fun? What delights may its practitioner expect as his reward? First is the sheer joy of making things. As the child delights in his first mud pie, so the adult enjoys building things, especially things of his own design. I think this delight must be an image of God’s delight in making things, a delight shown in the distinctness and newness of each leaf and each snowflake. Second is the pleasure of making things that are useful to other people. Deep within, we want others to use our work and to find it helpful. In this respect the programming system is not essentially different from the child’s first clay pencil holder “for Daddy’s office.” Third is the fascination of fashioning complex puzzle-like objects of interlocking moving parts and watching them work in subtle cycles, playing out the consequences of principles built in from the beginning. The programmed computer has all the fascination of the pinball machine or the jukebox mechanism, carried to the ultimate. Fourth is the joy of always learning, which springs from the nonrepeating nature of the task. In one way or another the problem is ever new, and its solver learns something; sometimes practical, sometimes theoretical, and sometimes both. Finally, there is the delight of working in such a tractable medium. The programmer, like the poet, works only slightly removed from pure thought-stuff. He builds his castles in the air, from air, creating by exertion of the imagination. Few media of creation are so flexible, so easy to polish and rework, so readily capable of realizing grand conceptual structures. (As we shall see later, this very tractability has its own problems.) Yet the program construct, unlike the poet’s words, is real in the sense that it moves and works, producing visible outputs separate from the construct itself. It prints results, draws pictures, produces sounds, moves arms. The magic of myth and legend has come true in our time. One types the correct incantation on a keyboard and a display screen comes to life, showing things that never were nor could be. Programming then is fun because it gratifies creative longings built deep within us and delights sensibilities we have in common with all men.
Frederick P. Brooks Jr. (The Mythical Man-Month: Essays on Software Engineering)
For the layman, as well as for the majority of the physicists in their less sober, or metaphysical, moments, 'space' is 'emotionally' newtonian and an 'absolute void', which, of course, being 'absolute nothingness', cannot have objective existence, by definition. For Einstein, 'space-time' is, semantically, 'fulness', not 'emptiness', and, in his language, he does not need any term like 'ether', as his 'plenum', structurally, covers the ground, without his committing himself to a definite two-valued mechanistic ether. The confusion of orders of abstractions, from which we all suffer, is semantic, and is due to disregard of the structure and role of language. If we accept a non-el language of space-time, structurally we deal with fulness, and we should not use the term 'space', as its old semantic implications are 'emptiness', and so are very confusing. The 'sensation' of Einstein's declaration amounts to the fact that the sub-microscopic fulness ('space') is more important than a few kinks or concentrations of that fulness ('matter'), - a fact which science has established, and which is quite obvious.
Alfred Korzybski (Manhood of Humanity: The Science and Art of Human Engineering)
pack under the floor of the car. They engineered it so that the pack became an element of the car’s structure. It was an example of Musk’s policy that the designers sketching the shape of the car should work hand in glove with the engineers who were determining how the car would be built. “At other places I worked,” von Holzhausen says, “there was this throw-it-over-the-fence mentality, where a designer would have an idea and then send it to an engineer, who sat in a different building or in a different country.” Musk put the engineers and designers in the same room. “The vision was that we would create designers who thought like engineers and engineers who thought like designers,” von Holzhausen says. This followed the principle that Steve Jobs and Jony Ive had instilled at Apple: design is not just about aesthetics; true industrial design must connect the looks of a product to its engineering. “In most people’s vocabularies, design means veneer,” Jobs once explained. “Nothing could be further from the meaning of design. Design is the fundamental soul of a man-made creation that ends up expressing itself in successive outer layers.
Walter Isaacson (Elon Musk)
Nowadays, whether we like it or not, we are stuck with one form or another of advanced technology and we have got to make it work safely and efficiently: this involves, among other things, the intelligent application of structural theory. However, man does not live by safety and efficiency alone, and we have to face the fact that, visually, the world is becoming an increasingly depressing place. It is not, perhaps, so much the occurrence of what might be described as 'active ugliness' as the prevalence of the dull and the commonplace. Far too seldom is the heart rejoiced or does one feel any better or happier for looking at the works of modern man. Yet most of the artefacts of the eighteenth century, even quite humble and trivial ones, seem to many of us to be at least pleasing and sometimes incomparably beautiful. To that extent people—all people—in the eighteenth century lived richer lives than most of us do today. This is reflected in the prices we pay nowadays for period houses and antiques. A society which was more creative and self-confident would not feel quite so strong a nostalgia for its great-grandfathers' buildings and household looks.
J.E. Gordon (Structures: Or Why Things Don't Fall Down)
Sons of ditch-diggers aspired to be bastard sons of kings and thieving aristocrats rather than of rough handed children of dirt and toil. The immense profit from this new exploitation and world-wide commerce enabled a guild of millionaires to engage the greatest engineers, the wisest men of science, as well as pay high wage to the more intelligent labor and at the same time to have left enough surplus to make more and thorough the dictatorship of capital over the state and over the popular vote, not only in Europe and America, but in Asia and Africa. The world wept because within the exploiting group of New World masters, greed and jealousy became so fierce that they fought for trade and markets and materials and slaves all over the world until at last in 1914 the world flamed in war. The fantastic structure fell, leaving grotesque profits and poverty plenty and starvation empire and democracy staring at each other across world depression. And the rebuilding, whether it comes now or a century later, will and must go back to the basic principles of reconstruction in the United States during 1867-1876--Land light and leading for slaves black brown yellow and white...
W.E.B. Du Bois (Black Reconstruction in America 1860-1880)
Online’ sales on the Internet are only an improvement of the old mail order catalogues, which were introduced in . . . 1850; they do not represent a structural change. Similarly, the Internet, multimedia cell phones, cable television, smartcards and the general computerisation of society — even genetic engineering — do not represent structural changes. They are all only developments of what already existed. There is nothing in all this to compare with inventions that really turned the world upside down, the real techno-economic metamorphoses introduced between 1860 and 1960 that revolutionised society and the framework of life: internal combustion engines, electricity, the telephone, telegraph, radio (which was more revolutionary than television), trains, cars, airplanes, penicillin, antibiotics, and so forth. The ‘new economy’ is behind us! No fundamental innovation has taken place since 1960. Computers only allow us to accomplish differently, faster and more cheaply (but with much greater fragility) what was already being done. On the other hand, the automobile, antibiotics, telecommunications and air travel were authentic revolutions that made possible what before had been impossible.
Guillaume Faye (Convergence of Catastrophes)
Leaves are also teaching scientists about more effective capture of wind energy. Wind energy offers great promise, but current turbines are most effective when they have very long blades (even a football field long). These massive structures are expensive, hard to build, and too often difficult to position near cities. Those same blades sweep past a turbine tower with a distinctive thwacking sound, so bothersome that it discourages people from having wind turbines in their neighborhoods. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service also estimates that hundreds of thousands of birds and bats are killed each year by the rotating blades of conventional wind turbines. Instead, inspired by the way leaves on trees and bushes shake when wind passes through them, engineers at Cornell University have created vibro-wind. Their device harnesses wind energy through the motion of a panel of twenty-five foam blocks that vibrate in even a gentle breeze. Although real leaves don't generate electrical energy, they capture kinetic energy. Similarly, the motion of vibro-wind's "leaves" captures kinetic energy, which is used to excite piezoelectric cells that then emit electricity. A panel of vibro-wind leaves offers great potential for broadly distributed, low noise, low-cost energy generation.
Jay Harman (The Shark's Paintbrush: Biomimicry and How Nature is Inspiring Innovation)
When General Genius built the first mentar [Artificial Intelligence] mind in the last half of the twenty-first century, it based its design on the only proven conscious material then known, namely, our brains. Specifically, the complex structure of our synaptic network. Scientists substituted an electrochemical substrate for our slower, messier biological one. Our brains are an evolutionary hodgepodge of newer structures built on top of more ancient ones, a jury-rigged system that has gotten us this far, despite its inefficiency, but was crying out for a top-to-bottom overhaul. Or so the General genius engineers presumed. One of their chief goals was to make minds as portable as possible, to be easily transferred, stored, and active in multiple media: electronic, chemical, photonic, you name it. Thus there didn't seem to be a need for a mentar body, only for interchangeable containers. They designed the mentar mind to be as fungible as a bank transfer. And so they eliminated our most ancient brain structures for regulating metabolic functions, and they adapted our sensory/motor networks to the control of peripherals. As it turns out, intelligence is not limited to neural networks, Merrill. Indeed, half of human intelligence resides in our bodies outside our skulls. This was intelligence the mentars never inherited from us. ... The genius of the irrational... ... We gave them only rational functions -- the ability to think and feel, but no irrational functions... Have you ever been in a tight situation where you relied on your 'gut instinct'? This is the body's intelligence, not the mind's. Every living cell possesses it. The mentar substrate has no indomitable will to survive, but ours does. Likewise, mentars have no 'fire in the belly,' but we do. They don't experience pure avarice or greed or pride. They're not very curious, or playful, or proud. They lack a sense of wonder and spirit of adventure. They have little initiative. Granted, their cognition is miraculous, but their personalities are rather pedantic. But probably their chief shortcoming is the lack of intuition. Of all the irrational faculties, intuition in the most powerful. Some say intuition transcends space-time. Have you ever heard of a mentar having a lucky hunch? They can bring incredible amounts of cognitive and computational power to bear on a seemingly intractable problem, only to see a dumb human with a lucky hunch walk away with the prize every time. Then there's luck itself. Some people have it, most don't, and no mentar does. So this makes them want our bodies... Our bodies, ape bodies, dog bodies, jellyfish bodies. They've tried them all. Every cell knows some neat tricks or survival, but the problem with cellular knowledge is that it's not at all fungible; nor are our memories. We're pretty much trapped in our containers.
David Marusek (Mind Over Ship)
It was as if we had made something very simple incredibly complicated. Here were these bodies, ready to reproduce, controlled against reproduction, then stimulated for an eventual reproduction that was put on ice. My friends who wanted to prolong their fertility did so, now that they were in their thirties and professionally successful, because circumstances in their lives had not lined up as planned. They had excelled at their jobs. They had nice apartments and enough money to comfortably start a family, but they lacked a domestic companion who would provide the necessary genetic material, lifelong support, and love. They wanted to be the parents they had grown up under, but love couldn't be engineered, and ovaries could. Hanging over all of this was an idea of choice, an arbitrary linking of goals and outcomes, which reduced structural, economic and technological change to individual decision. "The right to choose"―the right to birth control and abortion services―is different from the idea of choice I mean here. I mean that the baby question justified a fiction that one had to conform one's life to a uniform box by a certain deadline. If the choice were only to have a baby or not, then anybody who wanted a baby and was physically able would simply have one (as many people did), but what I saw with my friends was that it wasn’t actually about the choice of having a baby but of setting up a nuclear family, which unfortunately could not, unlike making a baby, happen more or less by fiat.
Emily Witt (Future Sex: A New Kind of Free Love)
Arnold's notion of the intellectual as disinterested critic distinguished him from both Marx and Hegel. For Marx, the proper function of the intellectual was to be a partisan on behalf of the proletariat, criticizing bourgeois society for its fundamental, structural oppression. For Hegel, the role of the intellectual was to stand above particular group interests, and to bring to consciousness the ethical basis of modern, capitalist society, in the process creating standards by which to guide politics and culture. Arnold's conception of "aliens" has obvious affinities with this Hegelian image of the intellectual. But "disinterestedness" for Arnold had a rather different meaning. It implied the ability to free oneself from partisanship, to take a distanced enough view to be able to criticize the side of the issue to which one had been committed, as circumstances required. "Living by ideas" he wrote, means that "when one side of a question has long had your earnest support, when all your feelings are engaged, when you hear all around you no language but one, when your party talks this language like a steam-engine and can imagine no other--still to be able to think, still to be irresistibly carried, if so it be, by the current of thought to the opposite side of the question..." The role of the intellectual, then, was to embody and encourage that quality of mind that allowed individuals to get some distance from their social, political, and economic milieu; to reflect critically, and to be carried away by truth. (p. 227)
Jerry Z. Muller (The Mind and the Market: Capitalism in Western Thought)
Elaborating on this idea later in his Confessions, Augustine wrote: Wherever the soul of man turns, unless towards God, it cleaves to sorrow, even though the things outside God and outside itself to which it cleaves may be things of beauty. (Confessions 4.10.15)310 Smith, following Augustine, argues that our ultimate loves are constitutive of our identity. They determine “that to which we are fundamentally oriented, what ultimately governs our vision of the good life, what shapes our being-in-the-world . . . and makes sense of all our penultimate desires and actions.”311 The things we love individually not only determine our character, but what a society loves collectively shapes its culture. This latter idea was the heart of Augustine’s great work City of God. He believed societies are the mutual associations of individuals united by what they love in common. What does this mean? Smith’s entire book is committed to the thesis that to change people most profoundly, we must change what we worship. Thinking, arguments, and beliefs are crucial as means of moving the heart, but ultimately we are what we adore. We are what captures our imagination, what leads us to praise and to compel others to praise it. Our inordinate anger, anxiety, and discouragement result from disordered loves. Our relational problems result from disordered loves, and our social and cultural problems as well. What can re-engineer our very inner being, the structure of our personality? What can create healthy human community? Worship and adoration of God. We must love God supremely, and that can be cultivated only through praise and adoration.
Timothy J. Keller (Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God)
The sponge or active charcoal inside a filter is three-dimensional. Their adsorbent surfaces, however, are two-dimensional. Thus, you can see how a tiny high-dimensional structure can contain a huge low-dimensional structure. But at the macroscopic level, this is about the limit of the ability for high-dimensional space to contain low-dimensional space. Because God was stingy, during the big bang He only provided the macroscopic world with three spatial dimensions, plus the dimension of time. But this doesn’t mean that higher dimensions don’t exist. Up to seven additional dimensions are locked within the micro scale, or, more precisely, within the quantum realm. And added to the four dimensions at the macro scale, fundamental particles exist within an eleven-dimensional space-time.” “So what?” “I just want to point out this fact: In the universe, an important mark of a civilization’s technological advancement is its ability to control and make use of micro dimensions. Making use of fundamental particles without taking advantage of the micro dimensions is something that our naked, hairy ancestors already began back when they lit bonfires within caves. Controlling chemical reactions is just manipulating micro particles without regard to the micro dimensions. Of course, this control also progressed from crude to advanced: from bonfires to steam engines, and then generators. Now, the ability for humans to manipulate micro particles at the macro level has reached a peak: We have computers and nanomaterials. But all of that is accomplished without unlocking the many micro dimensions. From the perspective of a more advanced civilization in the universe, bonfires and computers and nanomaterials are not fundamentally different. They all belong to the same level. That’s also why they still think of humans as mere bugs. Unfortunately, I think they’re right.
Liu Cixin (The Three-Body Problem (Remembrance of Earth’s Past, #1))
That, for a while, seemed like life. And if I was really being honest with myself, I wasn’t into it. The only option was to sit in the pews every Sunday at church and casually wonder if I was going to go to hell because of who I was? No, thank you. Or to understand that the structures on which the country was built were engineered against me? Hard pass. What choice did I have besides constantly code-switching between identities as a means of hiding in plain sight? And wasn’t it just normal to feel like such a mistake as an adult that every time I walked over a bridge or stood on a subway platform, I had to talk myself out of stepping over the edge? I came to believe I was a monster and that I deserved to feel the way I felt. And I didn’t want to turn the page. But through it all there was a constant tethering me to the idea of a future: the library. The library is the place where I could borrow first Grover’s philosophical tome, then a couple of Choose Your Own Adventures I could cheat at, and later a stack of mysteries I could spoil for myself, all attempts to look for some other way of understanding who I was. In the book stacks, I found The Bluest Eye and The Color Purple and Giovanni’s Room and David Rakoff’s Fraud and more. I saw a new vision of Otherness in those books, and the pages kept turning. At the end of every one was a wall waiting to be broken down—a lurch toward becoming—a new paragraph in a story with an ending far different from what I’d ever dared imagine. Every story, whether truth or fiction, is an invitation to imagination, but even more so, it’s an invitation to empathy. The storyteller says, “I am here. Does it matter?” The words that I found in these books were a person calling out from a page, “I am worthy of being heard and you are worthy of hearing my story.” It seems simple but it’s a bold declaration. How many times in life do we receive the message, implicit or explicit, that what we’ve experienced or what we feel isn’t noteworthy or remarkable? The books that I found in the library, ones that I deeply understood and ones that seemed so outside of my experience they might as well have been written in Klingon, all carried the same hopes: to be seen, to be heard, to exist.
R. Eric Thomas (Here for It; Or, How to Save Your Soul in America: Essays)
Even though the Internet provided a tool for virtual and distant collaborations, another lesson of digital-age innovation is that, now as in the past, physical proximity is beneficial. There is something special, as evidenced at Bell Labs, about meetings in the flesh, which cannot be replicated digitally. The founders of Intel created a sprawling, team-oriented open workspace where employees from Noyce on down all rubbed against one another. It was a model that became common in Silicon Valley. Predictions that digital tools would allow workers to telecommute were never fully realized. One of Marissa Mayer’s first acts as CEO of Yahoo! was to discourage the practice of working from home, rightly pointing out that “people are more collaborative and innovative when they’re together.” When Steve Jobs designed a new headquarters for Pixar, he obsessed over ways to structure the atrium, and even where to locate the bathrooms, so that serendipitous personal encounters would occur. Among his last creations was the plan for Apple’s new signature headquarters, a circle with rings of open workspaces surrounding a central courtyard. Throughout history the best leadership has come from teams that combined people with complementary styles. That was the case with the founding of the United States. The leaders included an icon of rectitude, George Washington; brilliant thinkers such as Thomas Jefferson and James Madison; men of vision and passion, including Samuel and John Adams; and a sage conciliator, Benjamin Franklin. Likewise, the founders of the ARPANET included visionaries such as Licklider, crisp decision-making engineers such as Larry Roberts, politically adroit people handlers such as Bob Taylor, and collaborative oarsmen such as Steve Crocker and Vint Cerf. Another key to fielding a great team is pairing visionaries, who can generate ideas, with operating managers, who can execute them. Visions without execution are hallucinations.31 Robert Noyce and Gordon Moore were both visionaries, which is why it was important that their first hire at Intel was Andy Grove, who knew how to impose crisp management procedures, force people to focus, and get things done. Visionaries who lack such teams around them often go down in history as merely footnotes.
Walter Isaacson (The Innovators: How a Group of Hackers, Geniuses, and Geeks Created the Digital Revolution)
The quality of our thinking is largely influenced by the mental models in our heads. While we want accurate models, we also want a wide variety of models to uncover what’s really happening. The key here is variety. Most of us study something specific and don’t get exposure to the big ideas of other disciplines. We don’t develop the multidisciplinary mindset that we need to accurately see a problem. And because we don’t have the right models to understand the situation, we overuse the models we do have and use them even when they don’t belong. You’ve likely experienced this first hand. An engineer will often think in terms of systems by default. A psychologist will think in terms of incentives. A business person might think in terms of opportunity cost and risk-reward. Through their disciplines, each of these people sees part of the situation, the part of the world that makes sense to them. None of them, however, see the entire situation unless they are thinking in a multidisciplinary way. In short, they have blind spots. Big blind spots. And they’re not aware of their blind spots. [...] Relying on only a few models is like having a 400-horsepower brain that’s only generating 50 horsepower of output. To increase your mental efficiency and reach your 400-horsepower potential, you need to use a latticework of mental models. Exactly the same sort of pattern that graces backyards everywhere, a lattice is a series of points that connect to and reinforce each other. The Great Models can be understood in the same way—models influence and interact with each other to create a structure that can be used to evaluate and understand ideas. [...] Without a latticework of the Great Models our decisions become harder, slower, and less creative. But by using a mental models approach, we can complement our specializations by being curious about how the rest of the world works. A quick glance at the Nobel Prize winners list show that many of them, obviously extreme specialists in something, had multidisciplinary interests that supported their achievements. [...] The more high-quality mental models you have in your mental toolbox, the more likely you will have the ones needed to understand the problem. And understanding is everything. The better you understand, the better the potential actions you can take. The better the potential actions, the fewer problems you’ll encounter down the road. Better models make better decisions.
Shane Parrish (The Great Mental Models: General Thinking Concepts)
If a season like the Great Rebellion ever came to him again, he feared, it could never be in that same personal, random array of picaresque acts he was to recall and celebrate in later years at best furious and nostalgic; but rather with a logic that chilled the comfortable perversity of the heart, that substituted capability for character, deliberate scheme for political epiphany (so incomparably African); and for Sarah, the sjambok, the dances of death between Warmbad and Keetmanshoop, the taut haunches of his Firelily, the black corpse impaled on a thorn tree in a river swollen with sudden rain, for these the dearest canvases in his soul's gallery, it was to substitute the bleak, abstracted and for him rather meaningless hanging on which he now turned his back, but which was to backdrop his retreat until he reached the Other Wall, the engineering design for a world he knew with numb leeriness nothing could now keep from becoming reality, a world whose full despair he, at the vantage of eighteen years later, couldn't even find adequate parables for, but a design whose first fumbling sketches he thought must have been done the year after Jacob Marengo died, on that terrible coast, where the beach between Luderitzbucht and the cemetery was actually littered each morning with a score of identical female corpses, an agglomeration no more substantial-looking than seaweed against the unhealthy yellow sand; where the soul's passage was more a mass migration across that choppy fetch of Atlantic the wind never left alone, from an island of low cloud, like an anchored prison ship, to simple integration with the unimaginable mass of their continent; where the single line of track still edged toward a Keetmanshoop that could in no conceivable iconology be any part of the Kingdom of Death; where, finally, humanity was reduced, out of a necessity which in his loonier moments he could almost believe was only Deutsch-Sudwestafrika's (actually he knew better), out of a confrontation the young of one's contemporaries, God help them, had yet to make, humanity was reduced to a nervous, disquieted, forever inadequate but indissoluble Popular Front against deceptively unpolitical and apparently minor enemies, enemies that would be with him to the grave: a sun with no shape, a beach alien as the moon's antarctic, restless concubines in barbed wire, salt mists, alkaline earth, the Benguela Current that would never cease bringing sand to raise the harbor floor, the inertia of rock, the frailty of flesh, the structural unreliability of thorns; the unheard whimper of a dying woman; the frightening but necessary cry of the strand wolf in the fog.
Thomas Pynchon (V.)
The main ones are the symbolists, connectionists, evolutionaries, Bayesians, and analogizers. Each tribe has a set of core beliefs, and a particular problem that it cares most about. It has found a solution to that problem, based on ideas from its allied fields of science, and it has a master algorithm that embodies it. For symbolists, all intelligence can be reduced to manipulating symbols, in the same way that a mathematician solves equations by replacing expressions by other expressions. Symbolists understand that you can’t learn from scratch: you need some initial knowledge to go with the data. They’ve figured out how to incorporate preexisting knowledge into learning, and how to combine different pieces of knowledge on the fly in order to solve new problems. Their master algorithm is inverse deduction, which figures out what knowledge is missing in order to make a deduction go through, and then makes it as general as possible. For connectionists, learning is what the brain does, and so what we need to do is reverse engineer it. The brain learns by adjusting the strengths of connections between neurons, and the crucial problem is figuring out which connections are to blame for which errors and changing them accordingly. The connectionists’ master algorithm is backpropagation, which compares a system’s output with the desired one and then successively changes the connections in layer after layer of neurons so as to bring the output closer to what it should be. Evolutionaries believe that the mother of all learning is natural selection. If it made us, it can make anything, and all we need to do is simulate it on the computer. The key problem that evolutionaries solve is learning structure: not just adjusting parameters, like backpropagation does, but creating the brain that those adjustments can then fine-tune. The evolutionaries’ master algorithm is genetic programming, which mates and evolves computer programs in the same way that nature mates and evolves organisms. Bayesians are concerned above all with uncertainty. All learned knowledge is uncertain, and learning itself is a form of uncertain inference. The problem then becomes how to deal with noisy, incomplete, and even contradictory information without falling apart. The solution is probabilistic inference, and the master algorithm is Bayes’ theorem and its derivates. Bayes’ theorem tells us how to incorporate new evidence into our beliefs, and probabilistic inference algorithms do that as efficiently as possible. For analogizers, the key to learning is recognizing similarities between situations and thereby inferring other similarities. If two patients have similar symptoms, perhaps they have the same disease. The key problem is judging how similar two things are. The analogizers’ master algorithm is the support vector machine, which figures out which experiences to remember and how to combine them to make new predictions.
Pedro Domingos (The Master Algorithm: How the Quest for the Ultimate Learning Machine Will Remake Our World)