Friday, February 25, 2011

Book Recommendation

I bought this book my senior year of high school, when I was applying to MSE programs. I've re-read it several times since then, and I keep finding new things. It gives a wonderful overview of some of the history of fracture mechanics, as well as great explanations of some of the fundamentals. It's largely written in an anecdotal style, so it feels a bit like having a conversation with Professor Eberhart. It does assume a certain minimum background in chemistry, but it is an enjoyable read even without one.

Eberhart mentions that he always felt materials science was about when things break, not why. On this point, I would like to argue that materials *engineering* is when, materials *science* is why. While his statement may have been true when he was a student, theory has become much more integrated in the curriculum over the years. When he was a student, quantum methods were just beginning to be applied to materials problems. Now, universities may have multiple research groups devoted to such calculations.

Eberhart does a fantastic job of relating these mechanics to objects and situations you are more likely to have encountered, though he does occasionally slip into jargon territory. All in all, a fantastic book for anyone who's ever wondered why things, in fact, break.

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