Chapter 8. Twelve Exemplary Case Studies of Technological Disasters


“Every case study . . . is potentially a paradigm for understanding how human error and false reasoning can thwart the best laid plans.”

 --Henry Petroski

In this chapter we present 12 outstanding accounts of technological disaster classified in a 3 × 4 matrix shown in Figure 8–2. Each case study was selected, among many potential candidates, as an exemplar that would illustrate the two underlying dimensions of the matrix: the causes of disaster and the three industrial revolutions. A supplementary set of 12 significant technological disasters, discussed in Chapter 5, is included in Figure 8–3. We therefore provide two case studies for each of the 12 cells in the 3 × 4 matrix. ...

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