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Engineering is the use of scientific principles to design and build machines, structures, and other items, including bridges, tunnels, roads, vehicles, and buildings. 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". Read more...

Engineers, as practitioners of engineering, are professionals who invent, design, analyze, build and test machines, complex systems, structures, gadgets and materials to fulfill functional objectives and requirements while considering the limitations imposed by practicality, regulation, safety and cost. The word engineer (Latin ingeniator) is derived from the Latin words ingeniare ("to create, generate, contrive, devise") and ingenium ("cleverness"). The foundational qualifications of an engineer typically include a four-year bachelor's degree in an engineering discipline, or in some jurisdictions, a master's degree in an engineering discipline plus four to six years of peer-reviewed professional practice (culminating in a project report or thesis) and passage of engineering board examinations. Read more...

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The Song dynasty (Chinese: ; 960-1279 CE) provided some of the most significant technological advances in Chinese history, many of which came from talented statesmen drafted by the government through imperial examinations.

The ingenuity of advanced mechanical engineering had a long tradition in China. The Song engineer Su Song admitted that he and his contemporaries were building upon the achievements of the ancients such as Zhang Heng (78-139), an astronomer, inventor, and early master of mechanical gears. The application of movable type printing advanced the already widespread use of woodblock printing to educate and amuse Confucian students and the masses. The application of new weapons employing the use of gunpowder enabled the Song to ward off its militant enemies--the Liao, Western Xia, and Jin with weapons such as cannons--until its collapse to the Mongol forces of Kublai Khan in the late 13th century.

Notable advances in civil engineering, nautics, and metallurgy were made in Song China, as well as the introduction of the windmill to China during the thirteenth century. These advances, along with the introduction of paper-printed money, helped revolutionize and sustain the economy of the Song dynasty.

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Close-up view of a silicon diode.
Credit: Cepheiden

In electronics, a diode is a two-terminal electronic component that conducts primarily in one direction (asymmetric conductance); it has low (ideally zero) resistance to the flow of current in one direction, and high (ideally infinite) resistance in the other. A semiconductor diode, the most common type today, is a crystalline piece of semiconductor material with a p-n junction connected to two electrical terminals. A vacuum tube diode has two electrodes, a plate (anode) and a heated cathode. Semiconductor diodes were the first semiconductor electronic devices. The discovery of crystals' rectifying abilities was made by German physicist Ferdinand Braun in 1874. The first semiconductor diodes, called cat's whisker diodes, developed around 1906, were made of mineral crystals such as galena. Today, most diodes are made of silicon, but other semiconductors such as selenium or germanium are sometimes used.

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