[UCP Books]: Why the Wheel Is Round: Muscles, Technology, and How We Make Things Move

Why the Wheel Is Round

Muscles, Technology, and How

We Make Things Move

Steven Vogel

US Publication Date: October 24, 2016 UK Publication Date: November 14, 2016
ISBN-13: 978-0-226-38103-9 Cloth $35.00/£24.50


Would you like to build your own desktop ballista? Or a small bathtub boat powered by a steam engine housed in a tomato can? Even if you’re not up for some DIY engineering, wouldn’t you like to better understand how the tools that power our everyday work? Here with the accessible directions and ready answers is Steven Vogel, who explains how throughout history, we have developed technologies that complement our physical abilities while overcoming our weaknesses. Providing a unique perspective on the history of the wheel and other devices—such as cranks, cranes, carts, and capstans—Why the Wheel Is Round examines the contraptions and tricks we have devised in order to more efficiently move and move through the physical world.

Vogel combines his engineering expertise with his remarkable curiosity about how things work to explore how such mechanisms were, until very recently, powered by the push and pull of the muscles and skeletal systems of humans and other animals. Why the Wheel Is Round explores all manner of treadwheels, hand-spikes, gears, and more, as well as how these technologies diversified into such things as hand-held drills and hurdy-gurdies.  Surprisingly, a number of these devices can be built out of everyday components and materials, and Vogel’s accessible and expansive book includes instructions and models so that inspired readers can even attempt to make their own muscle-powered technologies, like trebuchets and hand cranks.
Steven Vogel (1940–2015) was the James B. Duke Professor Emeritus of biology at Duke University. His books include Cats’ Paws and Catapults, Glimpses of Creatures in Their Physical Worlds, and The Life of a Leaf, the latter also published by the University of Chicago Press.



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