In a perfect world, portable computers would connect to comprehensive reference information and from any location. But until that is possible, traveling engineers had better take needed reference information with them. One way to do so is by using the mini CD containing the Science and Engineering Encyclopedia.
|The Science & Engineering Encyclopedia opens in the browser it finds on its host computer. Users can start with a discipline or look through the Contents tab at the left for more selections.|
|Selecting Conversions from the Contents tab and Mechanical pulls up a dictionary. Each item links to a calculation such as the one to the right.|
|Picking on Moments of Inertia from the glossary lets user run a few calculations for a variety of shapes. Only the thin rod is visible here, but scrolling down shows more.|
It's certainly portable and can be used anywhere there's a Windows-based computer. The developer sees it as a replacement for the host of reference books most engineers use. An added advantage is that it allows a range of simple calculations and includes a scientific calculator (in software) for crunching more complex equations.
Pop the CD in a computer and it comes up in a browser, so the learning curve is about 5 min of exploration. The encyclopedia is broken into about 10 sections including audio, chemistry, computing, math, mechanics, and physics. Users might start by searching for a particular term or quantity, or pick on Contents to view functions that include navigate, calculator, books, Web links, and conversions. For example, picking on Calculation and Mechanical pulls up a dictionary that spans Abscissa to Z-intercept. Most terms include some elementary calculation such as unit conversions and determining quantities from user inputs.
The $80 Science & Engineering Encyclopedia comes from Dirac DeltaConsultants Ltd., Box 3374, Warwick CV35 7YZ, U.K., www.diracdelta.com