The New How Things Work: Everyday Technology Explained
The New How Things Work: Everyday Technology Explained. John Langone. National Geographic Society, 2004. 272 pp. $35, hardcover. In a world where technological developments outpace our ability to understand them, John Langone, a science writer and former associate editor at Time magazine, has produced a science book that explains the inner workings of some of the most common technological devices that affect our lives. This is the sort of book that makes a good gift for children, liberally sprinkled with large, lush photographs and clear diagrams. Yet the text itself is sparse and written for adults, with each topic only given four or five paragraphs. The information is necessarily superficial, especially given the amount of space devoted to large and colorful–but not particularly informative–photographs. (Instead of a full-page stock photo of a handful of dead batteries, how about a simple diagram showing the positive and negative electron flow?) Since the Additional Reading section is positively anemic, each entry would have been better had they included sources for additional information. The book is hardly comprehensive but covers well over a hundred topics, such as automobiles, tunnels, synthetic fibers, digital cameras, glassmaking, laser surgery, photocopiers, and telescopes. Other, less obvious processes are explained in a few paragraphs such as elements of construction, sewing and knitting, and even the Stock Exchange. Entries are cross-referenced, and the book includes a glossary and index.
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