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April 11th 1862: I firmly believe that before many centuries more, Science will be the master of man. The engines he will have invented will be beyond his strength to control. Some day Science will have the existence of mankind in his power, and the human race commit suicide by blowing up the world. Henry Brooks Adams
The ancients considered mechanics in a twofold respect; as rational, which proceeds accurately by demonstration, and practical. To practical mechanics all the manual arts belong, from which mechanics took its name. But as artificers do not work with perfect accuracy, it comes to pass that mechanics is so distinguished from geometry, that what is perfectly accurate is called geometrical; what is less so is called mechanical. But the errors are not in the art, but in the artificers. Isaac Newton, Principia Mathematica
Man is a tool-making animal. Benjamin Franklin
A giant telescope in orbit will capture the light fresh from the stars themselves. It will also test the limits of Earth-bound engineering. Hubble: The Ultimate Telescope, 2010
Hubble is one of the twentieth century’s great feats of engineering. ibid.
It takes engineers four million man-hours to design and build the mirrors. ibid.
The arch is an engineering invention. Jacob Bronowski, The Ascent of Man 3/13: The Grain in the Stone, BBC 1973
Water had become the engineers’ element. Jacob Bronowski, The Ascent of Man 8/13: The Drive for Power
This was a heroic age – Thomas Telford felt that, spanning the landscape with iron. ibid.
We call them engineers. They engineered us. Prometheus ***** 2012 starring Michael Fassbender & Charlize Theron & Noomi Rapace & Guy Pearce & Logan Marshall-Green & Rafe Spall & Sean Harris & Kate Dickie & Benedict Wong et al, director Ridley Scott, Elizabeth Shaw
It’s the engineers who build societies. Star Trek: Voyager s7e10: Flesh and Blood II, B’Elanna
Brunel himself was knocked unconscious and washed all the way back to the tunnel of the central shaft. Jeremy Clarkson, Great Britons: Brunel, BBC 2002
The Greatest Britain of all time. ibid.
At the heart of this extraordinary transformation is one man, Isambard Kingdom Brunel ... The Clifton Suspension Bridge ... The Great Western Railway … the Bristol & Exeter Railway … Taff Vale … South Devon … Cornwall … the Bristol & Gloucester ... Brunel built modern Britain. ibid.
Enormously bold and heady engineering ... He combined form and function to completely transform our landscape. ibid.
He realised he was running the greatest show on Earth. ibid.
He wanted to give Bristol something exotic ... Designing it was one thing, but building it was something else. ibid.
Brunel was left dangling two hundred feet above Avon ... He had cheated death for a second time. ibid.
In London he was building another suspension bridge over the Thames, the tunnel underneath it was inching along. He was also doing the docks in Sunderland, designing his first ship, and he got married … ibid.
He began work on what was to become the Great Western Railway. ibid.
Brunel wanted his tracks seven feet apart ... The larger the wheel the less the friction ... Fit the big wheels and then put the carriage between them ... A lower centre of gravity, you’ve got better dynamics ... and something that changed the world – more speed. ibid.
A bridge with two enormous hundred-and-twenty-foot arches ... All the experts said it would collapse ... It’s still the widest, flattest brick arch in the world: a beautiful bridge. ibid.
He proposed a tunnel: two miles long ... He built this exquisite, elaborate and very expensive facade but inside it was unlined ... The opening of the Box Tunnel meant a straight and level run from London to Bristol in four hours, thirteen hours faster than the mail coach. ibid.
Brunel’s Temple Meads Terminus. It is impossible to over-stress the importance of the Great Western Railway ... Brunel’s railway changed our expectations, it changed our aspirations, it changed everything. ibid.
Crossing the Atlantic: he’d had an idea, a big one as usual: he wanted people to catch the train in London, get off in Bristol, and then board a steam-ship bound for New York. ibid.
He came up with this, the SS Great Britain – the biggest ship the world had ever seen. Not just the biggest either, she was the first ocean-going liner to be made from iron, and the first to have a propeller instead of paddle wheels. ibid.
Everything about the Great Britain was gigantic ... You should see his idea of a spanner! ibid.
On just her fifth trip to New York she ran aground off Ireland ... She was sold ... Dumped on the Falkland Islands ... This was the most advanced ship in the world and look what they did to her. ibid.
A modern propeller designed by a computer in the twenty-first century is only five percent more efficient than this propeller which was designed by a Victorian bloke in a tall hat. ibid.
1843: He was still only thirty-seven. The crowning glory of the Great Western Railway: Paddington Station. ibid.
There was an air of indestructibility to everything he built. ibid.
The launch pad for the biggest, more impressive, most astonishing engineering feat probably ever ... the Great Eastern ... a leviathan. ibid.
Brunel has scripted another East End soap opera ... The launch: thousands came, but the ship was too heavy to budge. Brunel felt publicly humiliated. Finally, they got her to float and the problems really started ... On her maiden voyage there were only thirty-eight passengers ... The leviathan became a transatlantic cable-layer. ibid.
Brunel didn’t even live to see the ship sail. ibid.
Darwin told the world where we had come from but Brunel had done something so much more important: he took us to where we were going. ibid.
Isambard Kingdom Brunel – he was the most famous engineer in the world. Empires: Queen Victoria’s Empire I: Engines of Change PBS 2002
He had conceived of the SS Great Britain as the first all-iron steamship. ibid.
This locomotive was built in 1957 and was the pinnacle of steam engineering. Mark Williams, On the Rails s1e1: Cornish Steam Giant, Discovery 2004
Richard Trevithick ... He was a natural talent. A natural engineer. A problem solver. But even so no-one at the time imagined this was the man who would build the first high-pressure steam-engine, the first car, and the world’s first railway locomotive. ibid.
It’s called the Puffing Devil ... The steam goes up the chimney. Chuff, chuff, chuff. ibid.
The destruction of his first locomotive didn’t seem to worry Trevithick. ibid.
His most ambitious project yet – a machine to run on rails. Britain’s first railway locomotive was about to be born. This locomotive was built over the winter of 1802. And its steam trials were kept highly secret. ibid.
Trevithick’s engine was a technological breakthrough. It was now clear the future of the high-pressure steam-engine was not on the common road but on the railroad. ibid.
The brittle cast-iron tram-tracks at the time smashed under the weight of the Loco. ibid.
In 1829 Rocket won the Liverpool & Manchester Railways competition to find the best steam locomotive. ibid.
The Founding Father of the Railways – but that title rightfully belongs to the Cornish genius Richard Trevithick. ibid.
At the beginning of the nineteenth century steam-engines were on the move. But they were unreliable, dangerous and smashed the rails they ran on. Steam was out of control. Mark Williams on the Rails s1e2: Rocketmen
George Stephenson is remembered as the Father of the Railways. After all, his son Robert designed Rocket, the most famous steam locomotive ever built. ibid.