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Ships and Science (Transformations: Studies in the History of Science and Technology) Paperback – 7 Nov 2010

4.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review

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Product details

  • Paperback: 432 pages
  • Publisher: MIT Press; Reprint edition (7 Nov. 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 026251415X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0262514156
  • Product Dimensions: 17.8 x 1.9 x 22.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,043,751 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


"This is a superb volume, and is likely to be regarded in coming years as the starting point of the now fast growing study of the foundations of applied science and engineering." -- Fred M. Walker, Mariner's Mirror "Naval architect and historian Larrie Ferreiro set out to understand the history of ship design in the West. He found the first half of the story encapsulated in the remarkable achievement of the French mathematician and astronomer Pierre Bouguer. Ferreiro uses Bouguer's seminal study, Traite du navire (1746), as a window onto ship design in the pre-Industrial era. This authoritative and engaging history leaves one eagerly anticipating its sequel." --Alex Roland, Professor of History, Duke University "Naval architecture has been a rarity among the sciences, having no written history worthy of the name--until now. In this book, Larrie Ferreiro has produced a work worthy of the discipline he has practiced and studied with equal ability. For the first time the many and varied theoretical and practical traditions of European ship design have been analyzed as part of the scientific and intellectual world in which they developed. The result is a work of the highest importance, linking science, ships, and sea power." --Andrew Lambert, Laughton Professor of Naval History, King's College London "The history of naval architecture is a fascinating adventure. Ferreiro's book takes the reader on a journey through time, exploring how the science and engineering developed. A myriad of topics are included such as the important prerequisite of stability. It is a marvelous voyage of discovery, written in a very readable manner which will appeal to all, from the curious to those of us actively practicing the profession." --Stephen M. Payne OBE, Vice President and Chief Naval Architect, Carnival Corporate Shipbuilding, designer of the Queen Mary 2

About the Author

Larrie D. Ferreiro is a naval architect and historian. He trained and worked as a naval architect in the U.S., British, and French navies and the U.S. Coast Guard, and has served as technical expert for the International Maritime Organization. He has a Ph.D. in the History of Science and Technology from Imperial College, London.

Customer Reviews

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
The title of the book "Ships and Science" is well chosen as it gives a very good description of the introduction of scientific principles into the European Shipbuilding community during the Scientific Revolution, around 1600 till about 1800. The study is centered around the first book on Theoretical Shipbuilding; "Traité du Navire" by Pierre Bougier. It describes the main players, their books and articles and their most important achievements. Looking back these achievements were very poor, only the principles of buoyancy and static (initial) stability of ships was properly solved, all other findings are faulty to our present insights. Shipbuilding during this period was a secret art on which not much was published, quite common with most trades in that time. The leading Maritime Countries (Britain, Netherlands) wanted to keep their secrets, while France, Spain and the Scandinavian Countries wanted to improve and therefore looked to Science for help. As this is the first modern book on this subject there are inevitable some flaws, but it is very readable and to the point, including definitions of used Terms, Symbols and Units. Therefore a must for anyone interested into the history of Naval Architecture.
As a final remark there is one important Dutch book not mentioned in this study; "Wiskundige Scheeps-bouw en Bestuur" by J.F. van Beeck Calkoen, published in 1805 in Amsterdam. This is the first Dutch book on Theoretical Shipbuilding written by a Professor of Philosophy and Mathematics. It presents a similar study, at that time explaining to the Dutch Shipbuilders the latest advances of Science in their field. More than 200 years ago it comes to the same findings and conclusions as in the present study. The most remarkable conclusion in my opinion being: "Our scientific knowledge can predict the movement of the planets infinite better than the resistance of the smallest ship in water".
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) HASH(0x8db800fc) out of 5 stars 3 reviews
24 of 25 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8da7e3f0) out of 5 stars Aubreys enthusiasm 21 April 2007
By Alexander T. Gafford - Published on
Format: Hardcover
In the movie Master and Commander, there is a scene where Captain Aubrey is looking at a model of a fast new American built frigate and exclaims to the effect that we are living in an age of technological progress. Aside from the perhaps anachronistic use of the word technology, these words seem to express the impact of the Scientific Revolution on the minds of the talented professionals at the turn of the nineteenth century. The question considered in this book is whether these enthusiasms were justified in fact and did the Scientific Revolution begun with Galileo and Newton lead to a scientific approach to naval architecture by the end of the eighteenth century?

The author was faced with the choice of writing a technically informed piece of history or a historically informed piece of technology and he chose the former approach. To a considerable extent the story is framed around the life of Pierre Bouguer who lived from 1698 until 1756 and wrote the influential work Treatise of the Ship which created the format for the study of naval architecture to the present day. These seems a wise choice as it is apparent from the text that there was insufficient general mathematical physics knowledge in the ranks of educated professionals to scientifically approach this subject until the early part of the eighteenth century. As Ferreio makes clear, of the three areas covered by eighteenth century naval architecture, manuvering and control, ship speed and resistance, and ship stability, only the last was actually placed on a physically and mathematically sound basis during this time. The other two had to wait until the following century to be covered by the authors next intended work, which I look foward to reading.

All in all, I really liked this book. The focus on person and personal history gives us some meaningful insight into the life of people like ourselves (I am an engineer myself) in a very different time and place. The treatment of the technical content is clear and thorough enough though perhaps assuming a bit too much knowledge of solid and fluid mechanics for the general public. Indeed the reason this book was rated four stars instead of five is that it seems rather narrowly focused on an academic/technical audience and is unlikely to really be found captivating to a more casual layperson. To find a way to communicate satisfactorily to both worlds is difficult indeed.
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8e2a95dc) out of 5 stars Ferreiro brings to life ships and their place in history ... 13 July 2015
By Amazon Customer - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Ferreiro brings to life ships and their place in history. A very enjoyable read even for those of us who are not "scientific" minded.
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8e02b270) out of 5 stars Five Stars 29 Jan. 2016
By Bubbleman - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Great book!
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