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‘Nuts & Bolts’: Book discusses seven inventions that changed the world

Award-winning engineer and author Roma Agrawal in her new book, “Nuts and Bolts”, deconstructs most complex feats of engineering into seven fundamental inventions: the nail, spring, wheel, lens, magnet, string and pump.

Tracing the surprising journeys of these inventions through the millennia, the book, published by Hachette India, reveals “how handmade Roman nails led to modern skyscrapers, how the potter’s wheel enabled space exploration and how humble lenses helped her conceive a child against the odds”.

“Each of these objects is itself a wonder of design, the result of many iterations and refinements. Together, they have enabled humanity to see the invisible, build the spectacular, communicate across vast distances, and even escape our planet,” writes Agrawal, best known for working on the design of ‘The Shard’ — Western Europe’s tallest tower — in the book.

What made the author zero in on these seven objects for the book? As per Agrawal, even when she thought about larger and more complex objects — diggers, skyscrapers, factories, tunnels, electrical grids, cars, satellites and so on — she would come back to the same seven foundational innovations only.

“We join things together: the nail. We need something that rotates or revolves: the wheel. We need power, and technology that can store it: batteries, sure, but more fundamentally, the spring.

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“Magnetism (and electricity) allow us to manipulate things from a distance; the lens lets us play with the path of light. String gives us a strong material that is also flexible. To move water and keep us alive, we fashion pumps,” she explains.

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According to the publishers, the book invites readers to marvel at these “small but perfectly formed inventions, sharing the stories of the remarkable, and often unknown, scientists and engineers who made them possible”.

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“The nuts and bolts that make up our world may be tiny, and are often hidden, but they’ve changed our lives in dramatic ways,” it added.

“Nuts and Bolts”, priced at Rs 799, is currently available for purchase across online and offline stores.

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