Books read recently by J. Zimmerman

{ June : roku-gatsu (see also books on learning Japanese) 2016 }


(6.23.2016) (6.21.2016) (6.19.2016) (6.18.2016)
Why Buildings Stand Up: The Strength of Architecture (1980), by Mario Salvadori.

Almost every page has delicate and precise drawings to illustrate the informative text.

  1. Structures. "In the past structures were erected by the time-honored method of trial and error" but modern materials and modern computing tools have now led to "triumphs in structural design".
  2. The Pyramids. Summarizes how the Great Pyramid at Gizeh (6.5 million tons of stone) was accomplished by manual labor, with a flat square base and three types of blocks. and how the weight flowed down inside a pyramid.
  3. Loads. "Loads may be a necessary evil to both the architect and the engineer, but their basic importance cannot be minimized." Includes: "Dead loads" (permanent and include the structure's own weight and anything else permanently there); "Live loads" (slowly changing and include furniture and people); "Dynamic loads" (rapidly changing like wind gusts or earthquake jolts); specific sections on "Wind loads" and "Earthquake loads"; "Thermal and Settlement loads".
  4. Materials. "The purpose of structure is to channel the loads on the building to the ground. ... When a material is pulled, it is said to be in tension. ... When a material is pushed, it is said to be in compression." Includes safety factors, steel, and reinforced concrete.
  5. Beams and Columns. "Translational equilibrium ... For a body to be at rest it must move neither vertically nor horizontally ... Rotational equilibrium ... Beam action [essentially the deflection of beams] ... Shear [especially its prevention by end-bent steel bars within cement beams] ... buckling: the bending of a straight element under compression"
  6. Houses. A concise history of methods used for housing.
  7. Skyscrapers. "There was a time when skyscrapers could be built only on solid rock. This explains the flowering of skyscrapers in Manhattan, which is a rocky island...the aspirations and realizations of man have taken different forms in different ages and that most certainly the skyscrapers will also disappear when the time comes for their demise."
  8. The Eiffel Tower. Its design, construction, and features. "The three largest steel structures in the world were products of an outburst of structural creativity in the last half of the nineteenth century. The Crystal Palace, erected for the 1851 Great Exhibition of London, covers the largest area; the Brooklyn Bridge, completed in 1833, has the longest span, and the Eiffel Tower, started in 1887, reaches the greatest height. ... Built for the Paris Exhibition of 1889, it [Eiffel] was meant to provide ostensibly nothing more or less than a magnificent view of Paris ... totally 'useless' from a practical point of view ... it became the symbol of Paris ... And then it became, somehow, the symbol of France ... [Eiffel] was the first bridge engineer to realize and assess the importance of wind forces on tall bridges and to lace them with trusses to minimize their effects"
  9. Bridges. The arch bridge "is compressed all over ... can be built of materials strong in compression, like stone, brick, and concrete". Also the truss bridge (such as between the cantilevered sections of "[o]ne of the greatest bridges ever built, the Firth of Forth Bridge in Scotland with a span of 1700 feet"); the concrete bridge "of hollow piers of reinforced concrete, at times 200 to 300 feet high, over which runs a roadway of hollow reinforced or prestressed concrete pipes of rectangular shape"); the floating bridge "laid right on the water [where there is no water traffic, and made] of reinforced concrete hollow barges or pontoons anchored to the bottom of the water by draping steel cables");
  10. The Brooklyn Bridge. Opened "May 24, 1883 ... the longest suspension bridge in the world with a main span of 1595.5 feet".
  11. Form-Resistant Structures. "Some of the largest, most exciting roofs owe their resistance exclusively to their shape. This is why they are called form-resistant structures". These include the barrel, the saddle, the folded plate, the hypar (hyperbolic paraboloid). "In structures, ... there is always room for ingenious modifications of old ideas, as well as hope for real breakthroughs."
  12. The Unfinished Cathedral. Discusses the Gothic Cathedral arising in twelfth century France; the nave, transept, crossing, apse or chevet, ambulatory, clerestory, triforia, quadripartite vault, flying buttress, and other terms are give before describing the creation and collapse of the Cathedral of St. Pierre at Bauvais (construction begun 1225, first collapse 1284, added tower collapsed 1573).
  13. Domes. "The dome is the greatest architectural and spiritual achievement of mankind in over 2,000 years of spiritual and technological development ... Its reduced thickness and the disappearance of buttresses and tie rods are due entirely to its monolithicity."
  14. Hagia Sophia. Erection began in 532 for Anthemius's design of "the largest and most beautiful church in the world". It was broken by earthquakes in 553 and 557, to be redesigned by Isidorus the Younger, who "aware of the enormous thrusts exerted by the shallow dome, rebuilt it in the shape of an almost-full half-sphere, thus increasing its rise by twenty feet and reducing the [outward] thrust by thirty percent." And so on.
  15. Tents and Balloons. Discusses modern fabrics that have superseded the animal hides used on the earliest tents.
  16. The Hanging Sky. Dishes and some more on domes.
  17. The Message of Structure. "A building has a semiotic message" (meaning, interpretation).
One of the best books read in 2016.


(6.12.2016) (6.11.2016) (6.7.2016)


{ May : go-gatsu (see also books on learning Japanese) 2016 }


Completed the remarkable two volumes of Basho's Haiku: Literal Translations for Those Who Wish To Read the Original Japanese Text, with Grammatical Analysis and Explanatory Notes translated and annotated by Toshiharu Oseko. The first volume appeared in 1990 and the second in 1996, published in Tokyo: Maruzen.

One of the best books read in 2016.


(5.29.2016) (5.28.2016) (5.27.2016) (5.26.2016) (5.23.2016) (5.15.2016) (5.14.2016) (5.13.2016) (5.12.2016) (5.10.2016) (5.7.2016) (5.5.2016) (5.1.2016)

{ April : shi-gatsu (see also books on learning Japanese) 2016 }


(4.28.2016) (4.25.2016) (4.23.2016) (4.22.2016) (4.20.2016) (4.19.2016) (4.18.2016) (4.17.2016) (4.16.2016) (4.14.2016) (4.10.2016) (4.9.2016) (4.7.2016) (4.6.2016) (4.5.2016) (4.4.2016) (4.3.2016) (4.2.2016)