This manuscript is the opening section of a book written by an experienced writer- do a light copy edit
Question;This manuscript is the opening section of a book written by an experienced writer. You are being asked to do a light copy edit, one that respects the author?s idiosyncratic style and to prepare a style sheet.The history and practice of engineering is often thought of in terns of increasingly large and complex machines and structures and devices and systems and processes, all of which tend to be ever more technical and esoteric and threatening.The primitive bridge consiting of a fallen log evolves into steel and concrete bridges that fall out from under interstate highway traffic.Television and newspapers find it easier to tell us exactly how many people were killed than to tell us exactly how such an accident ca happen. Initial reports tent to offer conflicting theories that seem to change daily as different engineersgive their opinions, and the public (and perhaps even the media) can hardly be blamed for giving up trying to understand what the experts themselves cannot seem to agree upon. And as the technical debate often continues in the in the courts, it tend to be even less and less visible an issue. Thus the conventional wisdom is reinforced that the workings and the works of engineers are unfathomable to all but, if not to all including, the engineers.But the basic ideas of engineering and the fundamental principles of the engineering methods are not really as complex as some of the more1?involved products and personalities of engineers-??managers. It is by trying to understand simple ideas and principals simple ideas and principals in terms of the most complex of examples and issues that we tend to feel overwelmed. If we can capture the essence of engineers and engineering through the most elementary and least abstract of examples, then we ca more easily get to the heart of the matter, when confronted with something so large and unfamiliar that we can barely conceive what it really looks like, let alone hold it in our hands and think about it. What might seem to be the secrets of engineering are in the common as well as in the uncommon, in the small as in the large, in the seemingly simple as in the indubitably complex. But on closer inspection, even what appear to be the commonest, smallest, and simplest of objects can reveal itself to be on its own terms as complex and grand as a space shuttle or a great suspension bridge. So to scrutinize the trivial can be to discover the momumental. Almost any object can serve toun-??veil the mysteries of engineering and it?s relation to art, business, and all other aspects, of our culture.The example of the pencil?s evolution may serve as a paradigm. While a lump of led or charcoal could certainly be serviceable as a primative pencil, it could also be critisized. Writing or drawing, with a lump of anything, for an extended period of time can cramp the fingers, thus cramping one?s style and perhaps even cramping one?s mind. And the relative bulkiness of a lump2would hide from the view of the writer or drawer the very thing being written or drawn., thus making fine and detailed work difficult at best. And the line made by a lump of charcoal might be to dark and smuggy on the parchment or paper, not to mention on the hands. The anciente were no doubt complainers as chronic as we are today, and they no doubt articulated such criticisms about the sorry state of their writing implements. Couldn?t anyone do better than a lump of charcoal or lead.Well, into modern times the act of writing was occasioned by much preparation and inconvenence. Reed pens were known in antiquity, and quill pens have been used for well over a 1000 years. But both required preparation of the points and repeated dipping in ink, which was at risk of being spilled and smeared. The paraphernalia of writing with a quill, for example, included not only pen and ink, but also a pen-??knife to shape the writing point and an absorbant substance such as pounce, a powder uses to dry the ink and prevent it from spreading. Albrecht D?rer?s family portraits of St. Jerome with a quill and Erasmus with a reed pen show them writing on sloping surfaces and with an ink bottle in either hand or on a level surface nearby.For a long time, the principle alternative to pen and ink on papyrus, vellum, or parchment was the metal style and wax tablet. Codex, the latin3word for tree trunk, came to be used for the wax-??covered wooden tablet that would evolve into to modern book.The tablet?s hard frame, latter also made of ivory, contained a wax surface that could by incised by the sharp end of the stylus, whose other end was often flattened or otherwise shaped so that it could smooth out the wax for alterations or reuse and thus effectively function as an eraser. Some scholars believe that Chaucer may have composed such works as The Canterbury Tales on wax tablets, writing only his final draft in ink on vellum or parchment. ?The Summoner?s Tale? relates the use of a wax tablet, as well as its eras ability, by an scrupulous friar who had no intention of keeping track of those to whom he had promised favors:His comrade carried a staff tipped with horn,Waxed tablets backed with ivory with pen to write on, A beautifully polished stylus pen,And always wrote the name down on the spot....No sooner had he?d got outside the door,The friar would smooth our every single nameHe?d written on the tablets earlier.Thomas Astle, whose first edition of The Origin and Progress or Writing appeared in 1984, described how early epistles were written on multiple tablets of wood, known also as table books, held together with string whose knot was sealed with wax. It is from breaking this brittle seal to read the epistle that the expression ?to break open a letter? presumably comes. Atsle?s treatise goes on to note that by the late18th century books of ivory ?written4upon with black lead pencils? were used in his day for ?memoranda?. But since the principle object of Astle,s book was to illustrate what was called the ?diplomatic Science,? which was used to determine the age and authenticity of important documents, especially those under dispute, it is not surprising that he tells as asides a few tales of violence. Astle dramatizes his point about the size and weight of wooden and ivory tablets by noting that ?in Plautus a school boy of seven years old is represented breaking his master?s head with a table book.?
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