Apr 14

Understanding the World’s Greatest Structures: Science and Innovation from Antiquity to Modernity, by Stephen Ressler (Teaching Company) ★★★★

This is a fascinating tour of structures mostly built within the last 100-200 years throughout the world, with an orientation around first bridges, and then buildings. Ressler is a civil engineer, and so the orientation of the course was entirely around the design and mechanical features of bridges and buildings that have allowed for their great length or height. It is a most fascinating story of design failures, learning curves, and serendipitous success.  Ressler is reasonably non-technical, though I wish he would have included at least one lecture on the real mathematics of design–not all of us are science dummies. Ressler has an interesting style of teaching, but most effective. His personality struck both Betsy and myself as a cross between a close friend R.B. and Mr. Know-it-All Bullwinkle Moose. Both Betsy and I enjoyed this lecture set tremendously both because of the topic and the teacher, and recommend it to our friends.

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One Response to “The World’s Greatest Structures”

  1. Onkel Dennis says:

    Civil engineering in the 20th century was eclipsed somewhat by mechanical and electronics engineering but it has its highlights. With a picture of the Great Pyramid on the top of your posting, I was hoping to hear what the lecturer might have said about it. Though it was built in 40 years about 4.5 millennia ago, the feat could not be duplicated with today’s civil engineering technology. According to legend, Job’s oldest brother, Almodad, who was known as the geometer of the earth in his time, was said to have been the head of the project. The pyramid is located at a longitude that splits the earth’s land mass equally on both sides of it, and the same for the latitude.

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