Portal:Engineering

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Introduction

The steam engine, a major driver in the Industrial Revolution, underscores the importance of engineering in modern history. This beam engine is on display in the Technical University of Madrid.

Engineering is the creative application of science, mathematical methods, and empirical evidence to the innovation, design, construction, operation and maintenance of structures, machines, materials, devices, systems, processes, and organizations for the benefit of humankind. The discipline of engineering encompasses a broad range of more specialized fields of engineering, each with a more specific emphasis on particular areas of applied mathematics, applied science, and types of application. See glossary of engineering.

The term engineering is derived from the Latin ingenium, meaning "cleverness" and ingeniare, meaning "to contrive, devise".

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Ap8-KSC-68PC-329.jpg
Apollo 8, the second human spaceflight mission in the United States Apollo space program, was launched on December 21, 1968, and became the first manned spacecraft to leave Earth orbit, reach the Earth's Moon, orbit it and return safely to Earth. The three-astronaut crew — Commander Frank Borman, Command Module Pilot James Lovell, and Lunar Module Pilot William Anders — became the first humans to travel beyond low Earth orbit, the first to see Earth as a whole planet, the first to directly see the far side of the Moon, and then the first to witness Earthrise. The 1968 mission, the third flight of the Saturn V rocket and that rocket's first manned launch, was also the first human spaceflight launch from the Kennedy Space Center, Florida, located adjacent to Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.



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Babbage Difference Engine No. 2 built at the Science Museum, London, on display at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, California.
Credit: Allan J. Cronin

A difference engine is an automatic mechanical calculator designed to tabulate polynomial functions. The name derives from the method of divided differences, a way to interpolate or tabulate functions by using a small set of polynomial coefficients. Most mathematical functions commonly used by engineers, scientists and navigators, including logarithmic and trigonometric functions, can be approximated by polynomials, so a difference engine can compute many useful tables of numbers.

The historical difficulty in producing error-free tables by teams of mathematicians and human "computers" spurred Charles Babbage's desire to build a mechanism to automate the process. It is considered to be the world's first computer.


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