Hilton, who previously surveyed the many uses of dummies and scale models, now takes a look at the ways in which industrial...

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BEAT IT, BURN IT, AND DROWN IT

Hilton, who previously surveyed the many uses of dummies and scale models, now takes a look at the ways in which industrial testers beat, burn and drown products to discover their limitations, and though the concept of quality control and product design were adequately introduced in previous Hilton books, her broad research has nevertheless culled a sequel's worth of striking examples. The products tested here include not only bicycles, packaging and auto safety devices but bridges, cookbooks (for the tensile strength of their pages), and even archaeological artifacts. And testing methods are shown to have developed from the first stress experiments designed by Galileo -- Hilton's favored subject for historical anecdote -- to sophisticated wind tunnels, fire and underwater labs, vibration and abrasion measurers, and chemical analysis. Though she reports sliced mice and other horrors discovered by the FDA, intentional abuses are more often regarded as a thing of the past -- with the ""deadly opium"" of old-time patent medicines criticized, but no mention of recently published criticisms of chemicals used by, say, the cosmetics industry. Similarly, some of the background anecdotes -- such as the story about how after a case of lead poisoning Goya turned from painting ""nice"" portraits to expressionistic distortion -- makes one wonder how all the facts here would stand up under strict testing. Yet their sheer energetic proliferation makes a rather technical subject entertaining.

Pub Date: April 15, 1974

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Westminster

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 1974