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Greatest Engineer?

  1. Oct 2, 2008 #1
    Hey guys, i need to do a short biography of an engineer that made a great contribution to the world. Who do you think is most suitable?
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 2, 2008 #2

    mgb_phys

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    The BBC did a Greatest Briton contest a couple of years ago and I. K. Brunel nearly won.
    Not necessarily the greatest contribution, but an interesting character with a lot of biographical information.
     
  4. Oct 3, 2008 #3
    Phil Irving
     
  5. Oct 3, 2008 #4

    George Jones

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    Simon van der Meer,

    http://nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/physics/laureates/1984/meer-autobio.html,

    won a Nobel prize in physics for helping to design the particle accelerator that discovered the W and Z particles predicted by electroweak theory.

    I'm not sure that this qualifies as "a great contribution to the world," but it does seem that van der Meer's work currently is relevant because of the search for the Higgs particle (also predicted by electroweak theory) now underway at the Large Hadron Collider.
     
  6. Oct 3, 2008 #5

    vanesch

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    Mmmm, although that was brilliant instrumentation, I don't know if it matters much in the world of engineering :smile:

    I'd rather say, a guy like Steve Jobs or Oppenheimer or Werner von Braun or Edison or Tesla, or Nyquist or Bode
     
  7. Oct 3, 2008 #6

    FredGarvin

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    My practical thought went to say Bessemer because he made the mass production of steel possible.

    From a personal standpoint, the first name that entered my mind was Kelly Johnson.
     
  8. Oct 3, 2008 #7

    minger

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    It's hard to blur the distinction between engineers, mathematicians and physicists back in the day, but the first name that comes to my mind is Archimedes.
     
  9. Oct 3, 2008 #8
    I was thinking to do Archimedes. Did he make any big contributions beside the water screw? Or I was thinking to do the guy who designed the Pyramids, i forget his name.
     
  10. Oct 3, 2008 #9

    mgb_phys

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    Imhotep
    But I'm not sure there is much to designing a pyramids - put less blocks on each layer pretty much does it!
     
  11. Oct 9, 2008 #10

    mheslep

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    Roebling (father John and son Washington) of Brooklyn Bridge frame. They more or less solved the problems of suspension bridge design and coordinated the construction of the Brooklyn bridge, by themselves.

    Nikola Tesla. AC Motor; probably should receive majority credit for radio.

    Jack Kilby. Integrated Circuit. With all respect to Van der meer, AFICT Kilby is the only engineer to receive a nobel.

    Lord Kelvin. Thermo (though he was wearing more of a physics hat for that work); Transatlantic cable, which was a complete disaster until he worked out the problems.

    James Watt - Steam engine and the consequent industrial revolution.
     
  12. Oct 10, 2008 #11
    da Vinci
     
  13. Oct 14, 2008 #12
    challenge was not in putting lesser blocks on each layer, challenge was to lift the blocks to that height.
     
  14. Oct 14, 2008 #13

    mgb_phys

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    That's just an implementation detail - I'm more a big picture person ;-)

    http://www.despair.com/achievement.html
     
  15. Oct 14, 2008 #14
  16. Oct 14, 2008 #15

    Danger

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    I'm with Ray on this one. Just for the sheer expanse of his expertise in multiple fields, da Vinci was really the only name that popped into my head. Sure, a lot of his inventions wouldn't work, usually due to the necessary materials not existing at that time, but he sure had no shortage of great ideas... and his documentation was unparalleled.
     
  17. Oct 15, 2008 #16

    mheslep

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    For the 'ancients' category, Id go with the Romans on engineering: concrete, aqueducts, roads, buildings. Some Roman buildings were not matched in height/scale unto close to 1000 years after the fall of the western empire.
     
  18. Oct 15, 2008 #17
    +1 for Tesla, although he was a lot more things than an engineer. I'm probably using 100+ of his inventions right now.
     
  19. Oct 15, 2008 #18

    mheslep

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  20. Oct 15, 2008 #19
    Da Vinci or Tesla. Both saw the world not as it is but instead how it could be. Also both made lots of diverse inventions that have had dramatic effects on the world.
     
  21. Oct 15, 2008 #20
    Actually a number of engineers have won Nobels including the inventor of the cat-scan and the discovers of the back ground radiation.
     
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