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A new book: The Mechanics and Thermodynamics of Continua

Zhigang Suo's picture

Book_blurb_v1.pdf - Adobe Reader

 Early this year Amazon sent me a recommendation of this book by Morton Gurtin, Eliot Fried, and Lallit Anand.  I pre-ordered this book, which arrived the other day.  The authors are active and distinguished scholars.  The publisher has done an excellent job in producing the book.  It is simply a joy to hold the book in your hands, and read. 

As you can see from the table of contents posted on Amazon, the book consists of 114 Sections.  Each section reads like an essay, focusing on a particular idea.  The book is concerned with formulating field theories, and is excellent for graduate students and researchers in mechanics, especially those interested in creating new theories and computational methods.  I have requested our library to order a copy. 

Here is a blurb of the book I obtained from Lallit Anand:        

The Mechanics and Thermodynamics of Continua, intended for graduate students and advanced undergraduates in engineering, physics, and mathematics, is a valuable reference source which presents a fairly detailed and complete treatment of the foundations of continuum mechanics and thermodynamics, with applications to formulating modern constitutive theories of materials.  A large class of theories in continuum mechanics takes as its starting point the balance laws for mass, for linear and angular momenta, and for energy, together with an entropy imbalance that represents the second law of thermodynamics. The basic balances, the entropy imbalance, and the principle of material frame-indifference are viewed as fundamental building blocks upon which to build theories of material behavior, and particular classes of materials are defined by additional equations in the form of constitutive relations. The discussion of constitutive equations in the book is based on the principle of frame-indifference, and the use of thermodynamics to restrict constitutive equations. Specific constitutive theories discussed include: (i) heat conduction; (ii) compressible and incompressible, linearly viscous fluids; (iii) elastic solids under isothermal and non-isothermal conditions; (iv) coupled elastic deformation and species transport; (v) theories for isotropic and crystalline plastic solids, as well as some recent theories of gradient plasticity. In our treatment of these topics the book considers both large and small deformations.

PDF icon Book_blurb_v1.pdf30.22 KB


Prof. Suo, many  thanks for the information. It is exactly the type of book I would like to have. I will buy one soon. Probably I should get two, with one in my office for research and the other nearby my bed in case I cannot fall asleep. :-)

Mike Ciavarella's picture

Zhigang, although this book is extremely valuable and well written, it is certainly not the type of book I would recommend to my students, except perhaps the top 1 out of 1 million of them, and even then, I would rather recommend this top to be in another business, like fund the next Facebook or Microsoft or Hewlett-Packard.  Frankly, in the times of wikipedia, who is going to read this 700 pages of maths?  I prefer much more Allan Bower's free book on the web, or some quick comments in Imechanica, than to have this bulky book, which starts with boring vector calculus!   I only looked at the free pages in Amazon, and the table of content as you said, but I only found subjects which I hope I can avoid for the rest of my life --- if really I need to use this machinery, I will then try to do it, but I will resist as much as I can :)

I have to be critical, I will not buy neither one for my office nor one for my bed -- although it would indeed be useful, when I cannot fall asleep, as I am sure it would work.

Sorry, Zhigang, but I really think this book is not worth $100.   A few Wikipedia pages do much better job, Allan Bower's book, and MIT Open Course Ware, Youtube lessons, even Facebook courses as I am trying to do.

Maybe in Harvard you have a different perspective, but if I ask any one of my students to read one page of this book, let alone to buy it, I am sure I will loose immediately all my popularity.

I am glad Bill Gates is funding MIT's OCW with $12 millions, and not this book.  I am sure MIT's OCW, and perhaps imechanica, will do a lot better for the world engineering, for Africa, for third countries, than books like this which are going soon to disappear.   Perhaps not entirely good news, but I think the efforts should be concentrated rather on OCW.

Sorry to be frank, I hope you appreciate anyway the constructive part of the criticism.

Michele Ciavarella, Politecnico di BARI - Italy, Rector's delegate.
Editor, Italian Science Debate,
Associate Editor, Ferrari Millechili Journal,



am impressed by your massive energy but do not share your opinion about the
book. For students and researchers interested in continuum mechanics, based on
my personal experience and observation, a systematic, rigorous and well written
book of such is always welcomed. Since lots of us are willing to spend $2000 on
a conference, the price of $120 for such a great book will not be the issue. Of
course this is for researchers from developed countries but I am sure that
students in developing countries may get it at much lower price. Please don’t
ask me how but it happens and usually lots of book authors are not much offended by
such things as the publisher. We all know that one cannot become much richer
by writing a mechanical book targeted to graduate students and researchers.


think that your point of having more web-based open publication is probably the
direction of future, like Prof. Allan Bower did. Nevertheless, I still bought a
hard copy of Prof. Allan Bower’s book because I find it convenient. My MIT
classmate once joked about why he prints out pdf papers. ‘I want to read them in



Yujie Wei

Mike Ciavarella's picture

Dear Yujie


  I don't think we entirely disagree. 


1)  For one thing, you seem that printed books are used today mainly in bedrooms and in restrooms, where I agree the use of the PC may not be convenient.  I would add to this list the beach - which at least is a more noble one, and where indeed I bring my books, and not my PC.  So you seem to agree that you don't read books in office and in library, where few years ago it was customary to do so..    I remember spending  my phd years in xeroxing papers from library, many of them, and I am sure nobody does that any more.  And my phd was in 1997, not in 1897!

2) if the web has changed the way we consider books in few years, while books have survived 500 years, it is clear that we are only beginning to see the revolution, and Ipad is moving another step to this direction.   Not all books will be free, and indeed Ipad wants to charge electronic books, and Rupert Murdoch wants to charge for online newspapers

3) students in Italy are generally less virtuous as you are.  If you are willing to pay 2000$ for a conference, you mean of your personal accounts, or Harvard grants?  Don't remember we are running in Italy 100 Universities with a total of 7.5Billions of Euros, which is just 3 times the federal spending of the University of Arizona alone!  On the other hand, a single student pays for fee, every year 350Eu in my Universities, and we are really struggling with my collegue Rector to ask more --- they threathen revolution.....

4) on the other hand, when I bring them to Modena to visit Ferrari Lab, Politecnico pays for a bus, but some of them asked me to come not for free, but with a plane on their own money!   Do you understand anything?   They are willinng to pay 200Eu for a pair of sunglasses, but not for University fees!

5) this is why I could not resist any longer, and I had to adapt.  My course does NOT require any single book or commercial software.  Is ENTIRELY based on wikipedia, youtube and facebook.   And is receiving media attraction --- few newspapers are interviewing me.  But what appeals to me is the much nicer response from students, who are enthusiasts

6) We have in Italy (but also in Spain, I don't know about US) an entire "generation" of youngsters who don't do anything --- generation "not not", don't study and don't work, since they claim there is no scope and no work anyway.   This amounts to 25% of the population, i.e. in italy alone 2 millions of individuals, of which 700.000 are "convinced".

7) these people are FOR SURE not interested in the Gurtin book, I can promise you.  Since the dramatic situation is such that we loose 1-2% of GDP because of this, and an entire country is collapsing for this, I am trying to use wikipedia, internet, youtube and social network, where they probably waste their time anyway, as a Trojan Horse to save them!

8) Of course with Harvard students it is much easier.  I was at Oxford University for my PhD, and I was at Harvard in summer 2000 to work with Jim Rice.   This type of students, the best in the world, coming from India where 1 out of 100 gets admission into IIT, or China, which is similar, are EASY to deal with!  Lucky my Harvard collegues.   I am not sure I would accept an offer to work at Harvard, I want to save Italian young people, and in Harvard I can only save a few of them.   Katia Bertoldi is already there, I am sure she is NOT from the generation "not not" :)


I insist, I will NOT buy Gurtin's book. For me, it is a dead end, anyway.

If anythink, I will buy this book about real inspiring engineering.It contains many nice figures, and is extra large.  Gurtin's book contains just equations, and so it would be easier to write them in software!


La Tour de 300 mètres

La Tour de 300 mètres 1

La Tour de 300 mètres 1

La Tour de 300 mètres 2

La Tour de 300 mètres 3

La Tour de 300 mètres 4

La Tour de 300 mètres 5

La Tour de 300 mètres 6

La Tour de 300 mètres 7

La Tour de 300 mètres 8

La Tour de 300 mètres 9

La Tour de 300 mètres 10

La Tour de 300 mètres 11


The iron colossus: the construction of the Eiffel Tower in
XXL-sized drawings and photographs
When it was completed in
1889, the Eiffel Tower was the highest structure in the world, measuring
300 meters (984 feet). Built for the World`s Fair, it was initially
granted a 20-year permit; this permit was thankfully extended and now
the Eiffel Tower is one of the world`s most famous structures, having
become practically synonymous with Paris itself and receiving more than
six million visitors annually. This XL reprint explores the design and
construction of this remarkable building; published in 1900 as a large
folio by Gustave Eiffel himself in a limited edition of 500 copies, the
original was never sold on the market—it was exclusively given and
donated by Eiffel. Featuring 53 double-page plates of 4.300 technical
drawings explaining the design as well as 33 photographs of the
construction, the book reveals the complex and fascinating process of
bringing the Eiffel Tower to life. Though the technical drawing will
especially appeal to designers wishing to discover the engineering
genius behind Eiffel`s masterpiece, everyone can appreciate this very
rare and special book about Paris`s glorious mascot.

About the author:
Specialist in the history of architecture, construction, and cities in
the 19th and 20th centuries, Bertrand Lemoine has
curated numerous exhibitions and has widely published on the subjects of
architecture and the history of iron and metal structures, including
several books on the subject of Gustave Eiffel. Lemoine is director of
the journal Architecture Acier Construction and has been editor
in chief of AMC- Le Moniteur Architecture and L’Acier pour


Zhigang Suo's picture

Dear Mike:  If anyone can create controversy out of a mechanics textbook, you can.  You radiate controversy!   

There is no doubt that the Internet creates new ways to disseminate knowledge.  There is also no doubt that print books will have their places for a long time to come.  Some people like formal development of theory, while others like interesting applications.  Many of us like them both, at different times of the day, or different stages of our careers.  They are not mutually exclusive.  They certainly need not be controversial. 

I like mechanics in many forms and shapes.  I like reading Truesdell and Noll in bed, and am amused that occasionally the book seems to be more entertaining than the latest issue of The New Yorker.  I also like pulling rubber bands, with or without pre-cuts.  I'm not above reading latest cute Nature papers in restrooms. 

And I am grateful to colleagues who devote their time to synthesize mechanics, bringing together new ideas and old ones.  In this regard, Noll's "The Roll of The Professor" expresses the sentiment.  The colleagues certainly should choose whatever form that pleases them.  

Also, are you sure you are not underestimate your capacity to appreciate abstract theories?  Are you sure you are not underestimate the capacity of your students? 

Mike Ciavarella's picture


sorry if I caused too much controversy over this particular book, which of course has nothing particularly "old-fashion" in it.  It is just one book, of good quality, and certainly there are many more which are not worth 100$ both in the old sense and in the new one!


The question you ask my students is an interesting one --- I have posted it to the facebook groups, and immediately I got the response from the librarian who said they will certainly buy the sunglasses, but will not admit it, whereas one student said that he has already 7 sunglasses, so maybe it is time to buy some books!  :)

On Noll's small essay, thanks for pointing it to me, but I fully agree with Noll, without agreeing with buying books!

 I agree with  I believe that it is impossible to be a good teacher without being at
least a little bit of a professor in the sense of having some passion for the
subject. The sad state of the mathematics education in our secondary schools
is caused, at least in part, by the fact that too few teachers have any such
passion. I also believe that it is impossible to be a good researcher without
being somewhat of a professor, because research cannot be good unless it
relates to something larger than itself.

And it is EXACTLY to be a good teacher that I am trying to adapt to the generation of NOT NOT.

But the question is a serious one.  The NOT NOT generation is CERTAINLY not evident in Harvard, but is 25% of young people in Italy, and about the same in Spain.  I am not sure about USA, but from the questions posed to President Obama in, I read


4. Education.  A
comparison of 15-year-olds in 30 wealthy nations found that average
science scores among U.S. students ranked 17th, while average U.S. math
scores ranked 24th.  What role do you think the federal government
should play in preparing K-12 students for the science and technology
driven 21st Century?

Here, Obama's reply:

All American citizens need high quality STEM education that
inspires them to know
more about the world around them, engages them in exploring
challenging questions, and
involves them in high quality intellectual work. STEM education
is no longer only for
those pursuing STEM careers; it should enable all citizens to
solve problems, collaborate,
weigh evidence, and communicate ideas. I will work to ensure that
all Americans,
including those in traditionally underrepresented groups, have the
knowledge and skills
they need to engage in society, innovate in our world, and compete
in the global


So you are not doing very well, HARVARD EXCLUDED of course!


I have links unfortunately in Italian and Spanish about generation NOT NOT, I hope you can google translate or read them in original.

You will see that in Spain they even invented a TV program like BIG BROTHER to "treat" these young people from the apathy they seem to have...

I will keep you posted about my students' replies, and actually I am suggesting them to discuss and use more Imechanica, hope you agree.

Aquella frase manida que se utilizaba para ligar de ¿estudias o trabajas?, ha caído en desuso para muchos de los jóvenes de las sociedades industrializadas, porque muchos de ellos ni estudian, ni trabajan; es más, no tienen ninguna intención de hacerlo, por lo menos de momento; son lo que los sociólogos ya están empezando a denominar, "La Generación ni- ni". El 15% de los jóvenes españoles entre 16 y 24 años ni-estudia, ni-trabaja, y este porcentaje se encuentra en proceso de crecimiento. Por ello las propuesta del programa Generación ni-ni es que pasen alrededor de dos meses en una casa especialmente diseñada para un grupo de estos jóvenes (en torno a ocho), viviendo un proceso de acompañamiento y monitorización terapéutica con un equipo de educadores en la que valores, principios básicos, herramientas y habilidades sociales, puedan arraigar en ellos y descubrir posibilidades de establecer proyectos que les ilusionen y les motiven en su vida futura. Serán, por tanto, alrededor de dos meses para vivir un proceso de reeducación terapéutica, lejos de las circunstancias que han hecho que su proceso de socialización no sea el óptimo para que se puedan desenvolver de una manera normal. En la casa de Generación ni-ni los jóvenes tendrán normas, responsabilidades, tareas, etc., y, lo más importante, tendrán que ganarse el pan con el sudor de su frente; es decir, tendrán que trabajar. Todo ello para producir un cambio en ellos que les haga tomar de una manera consciente y responsable las riendas de su inmediato futuro.



Michele Ciavarella, Politecnico di BARI - Italy, Rector's delegate.
Editor, Italian Science Debate,
Associate Editor, Ferrari Millechili Journal,

Pradeep Sharma's picture


Thanks for posting information about this book. I was planning to do it myself but you beat me to it! I received an advanced copy from the publisher sometime back and have gone through large chunks of it. I enjoyed reading the book....

Surprisingly, in my opinion there are not too many good books around on continuum mechanics and this particular one is likely to become a favorite of mine for multiple reasons. The big one being that it is rigorous without overdoing it---in other words, as continuum mechanics books go, I found it to be very readable. For example, I think that the book's treatment of virtual power principle is exceptionally clear.

I am less sure about the inclusion of the chapter on strain gradient plasticity. It is a very current topic and (perhaps) the dust hasn't completely settled on it yet.


Hello Gentlemen,

 is true, I have already 7 sunglasses as says Prof Ciavarella, so maybe it is time to buy some book.. but 100 dollars..... they are many for a book for me, see material available on the internet.

Andrea Ruggieri

Zhigang Suo's picture

Dear Andrea:  Indeed, $100 is a lot of money.  And the subject of this book may interest you less than an 8th pair of sunglasses.  (I don't really know your interest.) 

If, however, you suspect that this book may be of value to you and several others in your university, perhaps you can urge your library to buy it.  Perhaps Professor Ciaverella is willing to help you convince the library. 

$100 is a lot of money, but if a few students can learn one or two ideas from it, and can use it to converse with minds of distant past and far away, $100 is a very small investment.

Dear Zhigang!
Money is never ever a problem,The problem is that I have no money^_^

The total money planned on books is about ¥200 every term.That means I can buy 4 or 5 books. It's beyond me^_^but i can turn to the library.

However i do agree that if we can learn some ideas from it , that'll be worth the money.

Thanks for sharing the book.And best wishes!

haiwei zhang

dear Zigang Suo ,

why buy this book?

 today wikipedia is for us students an excellent reference source, and is very detailed and complete about continuum mechanics and thermodynamics detailed .

Also about direct notation for the most part, in this book they direct – as opposed to component (ie, index) – notation, per cui someone might find this difficult.


i think there is something totally different between digital resources and traditional books.
in my opinion digital resources like wikipedia is very powerful however it is something passive. it works very well if we know some topic that we don't know well. while paper books can offer something totally fresh something totally new to is more active.^_^
PS: i do agree that the price is beyond me .lol

Paola Palantone's picture



 Dear Zigang Suo,

I don't buy the sun-glasses, because i don't like the glasses, but I think that 100$ are too much for only book, also if the subject of this book interest me less than an 8th pair of sunglasses. With 100 $ I would buy many book on different subject.

Besides I'm  agree with Mariella, we are in the technology era and internet represents a good resource to search different subject!

as it'll lead to nowhere given such different perspectives on their values. It also turned out that Prof. Mike Ciavarella knew his students very well that he did not underestimate his students.

I am delighted to see Prof. Mike Ciavarella's students have started the Eiffel's Tower's project ( ) using ANSYS. Though it is still in a very primitive stage, I'd be happy to see its progress with great interest. 


Alejandro Ortiz-Bernardin's picture

Dear Mike,

I think this discussion is losing the perspective and it seems to me that you are the responsible for that. I feel this discussion is turning into a personal attack against Professor Suo (and sometimes your students are being a little bit rude as well). Please, better if we try to maintain an educated level that this discussion deserves.

One thing is clear: Professor Suo pointed out a very interesting and well written book to people who might be interested in. For those who are interested more in the sunglasses than in this book, just don't buy the book since it is clear that those are not interested in the book or in the subject.

Mike, believe me that I understand your point of view with respect to free resources like wikipedia, your facebook courses, etc. They comply a very important role in the education. Anyway, it is good that many options are available, free or paid; the protagonist is the customer who has the option to elect for any of these options. 

Mike, I guess there are more people than you think that prefer having a printed book than an electronic one. I am certainly one of those. On the other hand, it seems you prefer reading from the screen. Just be aware that reading from the screen all the time is not good for your eyes. ;-). I invite you to move onto another topic since this discussion is degrading the original aim of Professor Suo.


Mike Ciavarella's picture

Thanks for inviting me to change topic, and indeed those above are also popular today and I am partecipating on them.

I did not want the discussion to be rude, and if you read carefully, I did point to serious problems, my students indeed don't buy books, and I am not in Harvard.  You are at UC Davis which is not as good as Harvard, but still far from the reality in the South of Italy.   Since this is important to me, and I care about my students, I continue to beleive I have to work for them.

I don't think you understand my problem if you think it is limited to the fact that I read only from screen.  But I am not interested to convince you, you are already quite esthablished and secure.   I want to save my students, and provide them the best opportunities I can for their future. 

When I had the approach you had, I was very unsuccessful to improve their status and convince them otherwise.  Today, with many innovations in my teaching, I am having some success in opening them to the world, freeing them up from digital divide.  If they write in imperfect english, it is part of the problem, you can say "language divide".

But I don't permit you to insult my students, they are not rude and stupid.  They deserve attention like or more than you.

Regards. Mike

Michele Ciavarella, Politecnico di BARI - Italy, Rector's delegate.
Editor, Italian Science Debate,
Associate Editor, Ferrari Millechili Journal,

Mike Ciavarella's picture

I would like to clarify few matters about this discussion here

1) I am sorry if this has appeared to Alejandro a personal attack to Zhigang.  Anyone who knows me, knows that Zhigang is my hero for having created imechanica, and hence at least since then (before I didn't know him!).   If Bill Gates has given 12 millions to MIT's OCW, for me he should give at least 1 million to Zhigang's imechanica.   I don't have Bill Gates' email adress, but if you do, you can be sure I would support, and all my students and contacts for, my support if he asks for funding on this beautiful initiative.  I don't know how much Harvard is doing for OCW, I read somewhere it has Itunes platform, but anyway Imechanica is a wonderful initiative for the world of mechanics, without doubts various orders of magnitude more important than any single book


2) I am sorry that this attack in general has happened towards this particular book.  Coming round to check wikipedia, I do find some links:

 These are a good free start.


3) Of course, you have to understand me.  Harvard charges about 35k dollars per student, my university about 350!  So there is a factor 100 here.  The endowment of Harvard is about 30 Billions, and I presume the turnover is over a billion dollars per year, whereas our University has no endowment strictly speaking, and has a budget of 40 millions Eu per year.  So, clearly the two are on two different scales.  The total of all Italian Universities is funded by 7.5 billions euro, so something like the budgets of perhaps 5 top universities in USA, or perhaps less.  Yet, Obama wants to double funding in the long term, and our Minister Gelmini wants to cut by 20%, which strictly speaking is what is needed to start NOT having to pay the salaries.  A politics not only short sigthed, but also simplistic.  But this is another story, on which I am working via my


Having said all that, I am sorry if this has taken the publicity of the book a little Off Track.  But I hope you understand we are working all for the same scope:  simply, Zhigang has not taken a radical view like me, maybe because despite OCW and open access, and free books are best started from Harvard, on the other hand, he has to keep also on the traditional system, and he has many committments with traditional schools, friends, he himself was an alumni of Harvard after all.   


I have to make more precise choices.  I hope my personal career is not too affected, but I take the risks!


Michele Ciavarella, Politecnico di BARI - Italy, Rector's delegate.
Editor, Italian Science Debate,
Associate Editor, Ferrari Millechili Journal,

Dear Mike,

I don't think that there is anything personnal. One thing I realized after the debate is that we can not simply generalize opinions since we may be given "different boundary conditions".  What they say that one thousand audiences see one thousand Hamlets makes lots of sense.



Mike Ciavarella's picture

My student Andrea may just be patriotic.  We have the world leadership on sunglasses, and not on Cambridge University Pres, or in general continuum mechanics books.   The Luxottica company, in fact, only started in the 1960s, has bought virtually all the main sunglasses manufacturers, including the famous RayBan USA ones!

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Jump to: navigation,

Group S.p.A.


Società per azioni (BIT: LUX, NYSELUX)

manufacturing, retail

Agordo, Italy, in 1961

Milan, Italy

Area served

Key people
Leonardo Del Vecchio (Founder and Chairman),
Andrea Guerra (CEO)

Sunglasses, spectacle frames

sunglass retail

€5.094 billion (2009)[1]

Operating income
€583.2 million (2009)[1]

€314.8 million (2009)[1]

60,000 (2009)[1]


Luxottica Group S.p.A. (BIT: LUX, NYSELUX) is the world's largest eyewear
company. Its best known brands include Ray-Ban,
and Oakley, Inc.. It also makes sunglasses and prescription frames
for a multitude of designer brands such as Chanel and
whose designs and trademarks are used under license. Its prime
competitor is the Safilo Group S.p.A.



Michele Ciavarella, Politecnico di BARI - Italy, Rector's delegate.
Editor, Italian Science Debate,
Associate Editor, Ferrari Millechili Journal,

Mike Ciavarella's picture

The Homo Zappiens and its Consequences for
Learning in Universities

Veen, Wim;
van Staalduinen, Jan-Paul

Changing Cultures in Higher Education, ,
Volume . ISBN 978-3-642-03581-4. Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg,
2010, p. 323

Publication Date:


Abstract Copyright:
(c) 2010: Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg


Bibliographic Code:

Homo Zappiens is the new generation that is growing up with modern
communication technologies shaping their views on the world around them.
Prominent characteristics of Homo Zappiens include their preference for
images and symbols as an enrichment of plain text, their seemingly
effortless adoption of technology, and their cooperation and sharing in
networks. They use technology in a functional manner, not touching what
they cannot use, and increasingly this generation seems to take
exploration and learning and discovering the world, into their own
hands. Homo Zappiens shows us that we can increasingly rely on
technology to connect us and allow us to organize and preserve our
society as a group. In a networked society, the individual has more room
for contributing his/her unique value, and innovation and knowledge
reside in a network, rather than in each separate individual. Higher
education institutions will evolve towards institutions that will
function as hubs in knowledge networks, serving students working in
fluid communities of research or learning on subjects of their interest.
Realizing that we need a flexible structure for organizing ourselves and
the world around us, we can look at Homo Zappiens for a clue.

entry for this abstract
format for this abstract
(see Preferences)





Future students in higher education belong to a generation that has grown up with a PC mouse in their hands, a TV remote control, a mobile phone, an i-Pod, a PDA, and other electronic devices for communication and entertainment. Technology has changed dramatically the way nowadays’ children live, computer games, the Internet, MSN, wiki’s, and blogs being an integral part of their lives. Today, the average college students in the USA have spent less than 5,000 hours of their lives reading, but over 10,000 hours of playing games, not to mention the 20,000 hours of watching TV (Prensky, 2001). But the use of mass media is declining in favour of being online communicating with peers, searching for information, and using the net for fun (Wijngaards, 2006). In a country such as the Netherlands (16 million inhabitants) 87 percent of the kids between nine and fifteen years is online on a daily basis. Six million kids send more than 25 million messages a day through MSN (Microsoft, 2005), and children are exposed to around 8.000 brand images and icons a day (Lindstrom, 2003). They influence their parents what to buy or not to buy on the basis of what they have learnt on the net. It seems we could speak of a special generation, or even more than that, a Homo Zappiens. Surveys of kids’ behaviour tend to say that children learn much from computer games and from communicating intensively online.
But parents and educational institutions complain about this generation and many think that all these technology gadgets and software is a waste of time, damages health and leads to social isolation. In addition, many state that these kids know far less than parents ever learnt at school. This article takes a positive view towards this Homo Zappiens and tries to explore the socio-cultural, technological and economic backgrounds that underpin the up rise of this new generation. It also describes the consequences for our education system that seems no longer to meet the needs of Homo Zappiens or that of the future knowledge intensive society.






Mike Ciavarella's picture

Changing Education: Moving Ahead to Future
Learning (Hardcover)

~ Ulf-Daniel
(Editor), Dirk

 is expensive... 129$

But the original one is cheaper


Product Details

Homo Zappiens: Growing Up in a Digital Age
and Ben Vrakking
(Paperback - Jan. 25, 2007)



from $6.00

from $5.47


And even cheaper just take this 5 pages free PDF


azadpoor's picture

Dear Zhigang,

Thank you very much for bringing this book to our attention. I found it very valuable and interesting. It is far far more valuable than the price they charge for it. Only somebody who has taken the hardship of writing a masterpiece can really appreciate the efforts of these gentlemen in producing such a comprehensive and readable book. By the way, I have always had good experience with the books published by Cambridge University Press. They seem to be very good in judging what proposal is going to work out great. 


Chao Du's picture

I very want to buy some books about the continuum damage mechanics.

hi all,

In my opinion while it is true that reading a book (as opposed to pdf files) has its own advantages but very often the price/ availability become a factor for students. What is your opinion about photocopying(or printing the pdf of) the entire book? this we can read the book and also circumvent the inconvenient price and availabilty problems.(almost like having the cake and keeping it too.) I faced a similar problem when I wanted to read "History of Strength of materials" by Timoshenko. my library had only one copy and I could borrow the book for only 2 weeks. So, I was forced to wait for another two weeks before I could borrow the book again and finish it. here the availability became a major issue. I had the good fortune of interacting with a couple of authors on the subject they said that while they had no issues if any student photocopied the book for personal use, they would definately object if the book was photocopied by some professional like a consultant etc.

            what does everybody think on this issue? Is it ethical for a student to photocopy books if his sole intention is to gather knowledge.

Atul Jain

I bought this book because I think its price can push me to study the superfacially boring but essentialy fabulous continuum theory. Although the internet resources are free and abundant, you might feel giving up halfway simply because you never pay for it.


Another issue is that the problem before the internet is the scarecity of information while the problem after the internet is the surplus of information. In this circumstance, a systematic course(whatever the name of book is) is very important.

Mike Ciavarella's picture

If you circulate on the web randomly, you have excess of information. 

However, I know where to look for good sources, and I find just what I need.  So I don't see the problem.

I have a number of books, some were given for free from authors, some I gained for free as member of boards, some I had to pay with my research grants, and some (but these are unlikely to be technical, except very very few very very good ones that I used in my early years, like Johnson's Contact Mechanics or Barber's Elasticity) on my own money.  

I can ensure you that having so many books doesn't make you a genius!   At the times of the poet Leopardi , who was unhappy famous poet, his father was a maniac of books yet he wasn't a genius at all, and was quite weak.  On the other hand, Giacomo found inspiration on his books, and became a great poet.

Let me tell you this story, just to say what books can do.  Both good and bad things.



Giacomo Leopardi was born in Recanati,
in the Marche,
at the time ruled by the papacy, of a local noble family.
His father was the count Monaldo Leopardi and his mother was the
marquise Adelaide Antici Mattei. Leopardi's father was a good-hearted
man, fond of literature but weak and reactionary, who remained bound to
antiquated ideas and prejudices; his mother was a cold and authoritarian
woman, obsessed over rebuilding the family's financial fortunes which
had been destroyed by Monaldo's gambling addiction. At home, a rigorous
discipline of religion and savings reigned supreme. Giacomo's childhood,
which he passed with his younger brother Carlo Orazio and sister
Paolina, left its mark on the poet, who recorded his experiences in the
poem Le Ricordanze.

Leopardi, following a family tradition, began his studies under the
tutelage of two priests, but his innate thirst for knowledge found its
satisfaction primarily in his father's extraordinary library. Initially
guided by Father Sebastiano Sanchini, Leopardi quickly liberated himself
by immersing his mind in vast and profound reading. He committed
himself so deeply to his "mad and most desperate" studies that, within a
short time, he had acquired an extraordinary knowledge of classical and
philological culture, but he suffered from the lack of an open and
stimulating formal instruction.

Between the ages of twelve and nineteen, he studied constantly,
driven by a need to learn as much as possible, as well as to escape, at
least spiritually, from the rigid environment of the paternal palazzo.
His continuous study undermined an already fragile physical
constitution, and his illness denied him even youth's simplest

In 1817 Pietro Giordani, a classicist, arrived at
the Leopardi estate. Giacomo became his lifelong friend and he derived
from this friendship a sense of hope for the future. Meanwhile, his life
at Recanati weighed on him increasingly, to the point that he attempted
finally to escape in 1818, but was caught by his father and returned
home. From then on, relations between father and son continued to
deteriorate and Giacomo was constantly monitored in his own home by the
rest of the family.

When, in 1822, he was briefly able to stay in Rome with his uncle, he
was deeply disappointed by the atmosphere of corruption and decadence
and by the hypocrisy of the Church. He was extremely impressed by the
tomb of Torquato Tasso, to whom he felt naturally
bonded by a common sense of unhappiness. While Foscolo
lived tumultuously between adventures, amorous relations, and books,
Leopardi was barely able to escape from his domestic oppression. To
Leopardi, Rome
seemed squalid and modest when compared to the idealized image that he
had created of it while fantasizing over the "sweaty papers"[1]
of the classics. Already before leaving home to establish himself, he
had experienced a burning amorous disillusionment caused by his falling
in love with his cousin Geltrude Cassi. His physical ailments, which
continued to worsen, contributed to the collapse of any last, residual
traces of illusions and hopes. Virtue, Love, Justice and Heroism
appeared to be nothing but empty words to the poet.

In 1824, the bookstore owner Stella called him to Milan, asking him
to write several works, among which a Crestomazia della prosa e della
poesia italiane.
During this period, the poet had lived at various
points in Milan,
and Pisa.

In 1827, in Florence, Leopardi met Alessandro Manzoni, but they did not quite see things eye
to eye. There, he made some solid and lasting friendships, paid a visit
to Giordani and met the historian Pietro Colletta.

In 1828, physically infirm and worn out by work, Leopardi had to
refuse the offer of a professorship at Bonn or Berlin which was made by
the ambassador of Prussia in Rome and, in the same year, he had to
abandon his work with Stella and return to Recanati.

Leopardi on his deathbed, 1837.

In 1830, Colletta offered him, thanks to the financial contribution
of the "friends of Tuscany", the opportunity to return to Florence. The
subsequent printing of the Canti allowed the poet to live far
away from Recanati until 1832.

Later, he moved to Naples near his friend Antonio Ranieri, where he
hoped to benefit physically from the climate. He died during the cholera
epidemic of 1837. Thanks to Antonio Ranieri's intervention with the
authorities, Leopardi's remains were prevented from being ignominiously
buried in the common grave - as the strict hygienic regulations of the
time required - and he was buried in the atrium of the church of San
Vitale at Fuorigrotta. In 1939 his tomb, moved to the Parco Virgiliano,
was declared a national monument.


Michele Ciavarella, Politecnico di BARI - Italy, Rector's delegate.
Editor, Italian Science Debate,
Associate Editor, Ferrari Millechili Journal,

Thank you Prof.Suo for citing a nice book. 

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