Lifelong Dewey

Reading through every Dewey Decimal section.

Category: 620s

624: Engineers of Dreams by Henry Petroski


624.20973: Petroski, Henry. Engineers of Dreams: Great Bridge Builders and the Spanning of America. New York: Vintage, 1996. 398 pp. ISBN 0-679-43939-0.

Dewey Breakdown:

  • 600: Technology
  • 620: Engineering and applied operations
  • 624: Civil engineering
  • 624.2: Bridges
  • +0973: United States

Many of the major cities in the U.S. got their start as big port cities. Ships could sail in, deposit goods, and flood the local economy with raw materials and other goods. They were ports because a bay or river brought the ship. And because there was water, there was a need for bridges. Bridges as an architectural or engineering feature have been around since the Romans, but new materials in the 19th century allowed for better, stronger, longer bridges to be built. In the United States, there are several iconic bridges—The Golden Gate Bridge, The Brooklyn Bridge, The George Washington Bridge—whose conception and completion are due in large part to the engineers who first thought them up. Henry Petroski’s Engineers of Dreams is an ode to these thinkers and builders, the men who decided to cross a river and leave their mark on the American landscape.

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623: Airship by John Swinfield


623.74309041: Swinfield, John. Airship: Design, Development, and Disaster. London: Conway Maritime, 2012. 352 pp. ISBN 978-1-8448-6138-5.

Dewey Breakdown:

  • 600: Technology
  • 620: Engineering
  • 623: Military and nautical engineering
  • 623.7: Communications, vehicles, sanitations and related topics
  • 623.74: Vehicles
  • 623.743: Airships (dirigibles)
  • +09041: Early 20th Century

John Swinfield’s Airship is a wonderful exploration of the history of airships, dirigibles, and zeppelins as they were beginning to become a fixture in history. While there is a large gray area between when a flying vessel goes from a hot-air balloon to an airship, the qualifying characteristic seems to be the inclusion of an engine to power propellers and guide the vehicle properly. William Bland’s 1851 flight with a steam engine and twin propellers fits the bill. And from there, things only got bigger and more dangerous.

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622: Lost Mountain by Erik Reece


622.2920974: Reece, Erik. Lost Mountain: A Year in the Vanishing Wilderness—Radical Strip Mining and the Devastation of Appalachia. New York: Riverhead, 2006. 243 pp. ISBN 978-1-59448-236-6.

Dewey Breakdown:

  • 600: Technology
  • 620: Engineering
  • 622: Mining and related operations
  • 622.2: Excavation techniques
  • 622.29: Surface and underwater mining
  • 622.292: Surface mining
  • +0974: Northeastern United States

Erik Reece’s Lost Mountain is a no-holds-barred vilification of current mountaintop removal coal mining practices. He follows the course of several businesses who purchase and re-sell the permit to strip mine Lost Mountain in Eastern Kentucky from September 2003 to September 2004. Along the way, he reports on past court cases involving mining companies, how the law is bent to accommodate mining practices, and whether there are real, useful, sustainable ways to extract coal from mountains.

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621: Tesla by Margaret Cheney


621.3092: Cheney, Margaret. Tesla: Man Out of Time. New York: Touchstone, 2001. 354 pp. ISBN 978-0-7432-1536-7.

Dewey Construction:

  • 600: Technology
  • 620: Engineering and allied operation
  • 621: Applied physics
  • 621.3: Electrical, magnetic, optical, communications, or computer engineering
  • +092: Biography

For fifty years, the scientific and public community simply forgot about one of its own. He helped to usher in a fantastic age of electrical devices, invented a machine that could wirelessly transmit power, and created a pocket-sized device that could destroy a building with just waves. The good thing is, we have know come to love and respect this great tinkerer. And Margaret Cheney writes him a very passable biography: he was Nikola Tesla.

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629: How to Build an Android by David Dufty

629.892: Dufty, David F. How to Build an Android: The True Story of Philip K. Dick’s Robotic Resurrection. New York: Henry Holt, 2012. 259 pp. ISBN 978-0-8050-9551-7.

Dewey Construction:

  • 600: Technology (Applied Sciences)
  • 620: Engineering and allied operations
  • 629: Other branches of engineering
  • 629.8: Automatic control engineering
  • 629.89: Computer control
  • 629.892: Robots

Of the many things to worry about losing, the android head of the late science-fiction author Philip K. Dick is perhaps the strangest (although, if you’ve read Ted L. Nancy’s Letters From A Nut, this wouldn’t even make it to the top ten). In 2005, a team of engineers was brought together at the University of Memphis to take the next step in human-robot interaction: to build a fully interactive and fully expressive head that could comprehend speech and synthesize its own responses.

They did. It worked. And then they lost it.

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