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Torsion and Flexure: The Reasons Underlying the Solution of Two Design Problems

Aircraft Engineering and Aerospace Technology

ISSN: 0002-2667

Article publication date: 1 December 1939


A SERIOUS difficulty in engineering is the bridging of the stream between the mathematician and the engineer. They have been from the start, to a large extent, on opposite sides, for whereas the mathematician is wholly a rationalist, the engineer is largely an empiricist. This empiricism of the engineer is not due to any innate dislike of reason, but rather to the inadequacy of reason to forecast experimental facts. In general, facts are discovered and are then shown to be rational; but once the reason underlying a known fact is produced, it furnishes a means of prediction in matters far beyond existing experience. The inability of the mathematician to produce a design technique as soon as it is required has led to some disparagement by the engineer, so that some engineers scorn to use any but the simplest formulaæ and base their design almost entirely on experience, even when adequate mathematical treatment is available. Others, who have little time for mathematical study, hesitate to use the results of the mathematical theory of elasticity because of their ignorance of the derivation of a formulæ and the consequent danger of misapplying it.


Gurney, C. (1939), "Torsion and Flexure: The Reasons Underlying the Solution of Two Design Problems", Aircraft Engineering and Aerospace Technology, Vol. 11 No. 12, pp. 437-440.




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