Nuts and Bolts: Seven Small Inventions that Changed the World

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Agrawal, Roma. Nuts and Bolts: Seven Small Inventions that Changed the World (in a Big Way). UK: London: Hodder & Stoughton/Hachette, 2023. USA: New York City: W. W. Norton & Company, 2023.

Publisher's Blurb from MIT Press Bookstore site:

A structural engineer examines the seven most basic building blocks of engineering that have shaped the modern world.

Some of humanity’s mightiest engineering achievements are small in scale—and, without them, the complex machinery on which our modern world runs would not exist. In Nuts and Bolts, structural engineer Roma Agrawal examines seven of these extraordinary elements: the nail, the wheel, the spring, the magnet, the lens, the string, and the pump.[1]

Full blurb may be found on Norton website, as of December 2023, here.[2]

Guest column by Agrawal: "My passion for the seven small objects at the heart of everything we build," The Guardian on line, "Self and wellbeing: Engineering" section, 12 March 2023, as of December 2023 available here.[3]

Interview with Agrawal, with listener comments on which inventions changed their lives, or changed human civilization: "How the nail, the spring, and other small inventions changed the world," The 1A, WAMU, NPR-DC, 26 November 2023, 34:16 minutes, with breaks, as of December 2023, available here.[4]

See, first, for overlap with the old idea in physics of "simple machines" as mechanical devices that change "the direction or magnitude of a force. In general, they can be defined as the simplest mechanisms that use mechanical advantage (also called leverage) to multiply force. Usually the term refers to the six classical simple machines that were defined by Renaissance scientists: Lever, Wheel and axle, Pulley, Inclined plane, Wedge, Screw."[5] Second, for the idea brought up to date and written to include women's issues and more women. In the NPR interview, there's an interesting discussion of the breast pump, including its invention and development by men, and more recent modification by women.


RDE, Finishing, 30Dec23