Difference between a book and a good book!

And, how to learn even from a poorly written book - as explained by the definition of a machine!!

FOREWORD: Re-Organizing my tutorials

If you are NOT new to this blog, you know that I read books mostly for knowledge and rarely for entertainment!. You might also recall that the movie 3 idiots is one of my favourite movies - mainly because (among other reasons) it conveyed Don't chase success, chase excellence and success will follow

I firmly believe that knowledge leads to excellence! But, college education always left a lot of gaps in my bookish knowledge. I have shared my funstration with you about the missing information. I knew that computers are capable of doing much complex work like creating virtual world(s) in a video game. I knew that computer is good at performing millions (if not, billions) of computations! But, I was unable to understand how these two were related.

Eventually, I manged to understand the relation and cameup with some gaming tutorials that deal with such missing links and interdisciplinary concepts. Even though those tutorials provide enough information about creating games, they are poorly organized. They should be re-created with more details and easily understandable content.

Perhaps, I can use this funny video from the 3 idiots movie and use it as a reference for re-organizing my tutorials. Since, writing the tutorials would take a lot of time, I guess, writing a tutorial on how to write tutorials would be a quicker and most logical and a foremost thing I have to do!

INTRODUCTION : PART-1 : What is a machine?

SHORT ANSWER : A machine is anything that reduces human effort. Anything that simplifies a human effort or saves time is a machine.

LONG ANSWER : Machines are any combination of bodies so connected that thier relative motions are constrained, and by which means force and motion maybe transmitted and modified as the screw and its nut, or a lever arranged to turn about a fulcrum or a pulley about its pivot etc. especially a construction more or less complex consisting of a combination of moving parts or simple mechanical elements such as wheels, levers, cams etc.

INTRODUCTION : PART-2 : What is a book?

BOOK : Instruments that record analyse summarize organize debate and explain information which are illustrative non-illustrative hardbound paperback jacketed non-jacketed with foreword, introduction, table of contents, index, that are intended for the enlightenment, understanding enrichment enhancement and education of the human brain through sensory root of vision... Sometimes touch!

Those two definitions are really funny definitions, and I have thoroughly enjoyed the scene. But, the instant gratification monkey has interrupted my laughter and has convinced me to go through each and every word of those statements and learn something!!

OK!! What did I learn so far??

The definition about the machine has recorded the summary of the machine parts. Thats all! It has not explained those machine parts. It has not organized those machine parts into a logical/meaningful easily understandable text. There were no illustrations so far! And definitely jacketed books and non-jacketed books are out this context. They are supposed to protect a book from dust/tear, which is not applicable to this blog/ebook. Same is the case with hardbound books or books with a paperback

After leaving out the physical traits of a book, we are left with the content related traits of the book, like...

YEAH?? So what exactly should be the table of contents while explaining a machine?

Remember? A book is supposed to enhance our understanding through the sensory root of vision! So, if we re-organize the text in a more eye-friendly way, with an elaborate table of contents it might ease up our understanding process. For example....

Machines have parts, and physics has rules. So??

A good book would analyze and summarize different topics. A good book explains the relation between the topics that seem to be unrelated. With a little bit of more detailed explaination, our understanding of a machine would be enhanced...

A machine is a combination of bodies, such that...

So, are you saying that there is a lot of hidden information in that gibberish?

ABSOLUTELY!!!! When a person has enough zeal to learn, he/she can find useful information from anything - even when it appears to be gibberish in the first glance. All that the person (not necessarily restricted to students in colleges) has to do is.... to ask the right questions!!

There are two schools of thought...

Let us see them one-by-one...

Top-down approach

What is a machine?
A machine is something that simplifies human effort.

How is the human effort simplified?
A machine can reduce human effort by doing various tasks like...

How are these tasks done?
These tasks are done using different components like wheels, levers, cams etc.

Bottom-up approach

What is a machine?
A machine is simple/complex combination of components like... wheels, levers, cams etc.

Where are those components used?
These components can be used in performing tasks like...

Where are these tasks used?
These tasks are required where human efforts should be simplified.

Technical authors are often fond of the components like integration/diodes/levers etc. that they spend more time in explainig those tiny components, and often ignore the part where these components are used. (integration can be used in computer simulations, diodes can be used in electronics, levers can be used in civil/mechanical engeneering. But, relax!! I'm not going to deal them in this page. More on those topics, later!)

The point is... Top-bottom approach is easier to understand. And Bottom-up approach gives a complete/practical understanding of the concepts. Both these approaches have merits+demerits in their own ways! A hybrid of both these approaches would be an ideal situation.

Looks better. But, still it sounds like Greek+Latin+Sanskrit to me!!

Generally, while understanding a poem/song written in a different language, a similar situation occurs. We might be able to identify the components of the text, but might face some problems while understanding particular words. In such a case, we google the meaning of those words and try to understand the complete line. Same is the case here.

But, a good book is supposed to reduce our effort in navigating to some other sources/websites for such exaplainations/clarifications/meanings. Such details should be presented in the book itself - along with illustrations, if possible!

Rotating a screw in its nut

What are SCREW and NUT?
A screw and a nut is generally metal items that can attach smaller items to create a bigger and more useful item. When the screw rotates inside a nut, the screw moves forward/backward. This movement of the screw will increase/decrease the distance between the items the screw is supposed to join. Basically, a screw and nut combination will convert rotational movement into linear movement.

How is a that convertion done?
A screw contains helical curves. If we hold the screw (generally using a nut), these curves would facilitate the rotation by moving the screw in a straight-line direction.

Where are they used?
As mentioned in the movie.... 'When there is sultry, we switch on the fan', and the blades of the fan rotate, thus generating the wind! The fan blades are attached to the ceter part of the fan using screws and nuts.

Turning a pulley about its pivot

What are pulley and pivot?
Pulley and pivots are the tools required in pulling loads using ropes. A pulley is a cutdown torus like structure, through which, ropes can slide. When the ropes slide though the pulley, the pulley rotates - so that there will be less friction. The point around which the rotation happens is called the pivot-point.

Why do we need a pulley to lift objects? Why can't we directly lift the objects?
A pulley is useful when the movement of the object is not same as the direction of the force we can apply. For example... while fetching water from a well, we can pull the rope down, but the water-bucket would come up. Same is the case with a pulley attached to a gym equipment. Weights in the gym machine undergo gravity and the work is done only when the weights are lifted up. But, a pulley can allow the gym user to exert force in different a direction like up/down/front/back - depending on the targetted body part.

Apart from that, it is possible to combine two or more pullies in order to make the effort in moving of the loads easy/difficult - depending on the requirement. For example...In a gym, more effort is desired; and in construction activities, less(er) effort is required.

Where are they used?
If you are a movie fan, you might have seen this scene from the movie Bahubali. Keeping aside the heroics of that scene, the summary is... all those men were pulling ropes (at 28 seconds of the video) that are going through some rotating metal. That rotating metal is called a pulley!

Turning a lever about its fulcrum

What is a lever? What is a fulcrum?
A lever is a strong (usually long) (usually) metalic item, used to lift heavy loads. Fulcrum is an object that provides a pivot-point for the lever. The lever is placed below the load, and a fulcrum is placed near the load, such that the fulcrum supports the lever to stay at some angle. At the other end of the lever, if we apply some downward force, the lever will rotate around the pivot point, and the load will be lifted up.

Why can't we use pullies instead of a lever? Will levers reduce the effort too?
Pullies require the load to be attached to the ropes. Levers don't have any such requirement. To reduce the effort/force in lifting the load, keep the distance between the load and fulcrum lesser than the distance between fulcrum and the force.

Where are they used?
Sometimes, we want the load to be fixed, and the lever itself to be moved! Recall that the movie talks about "refrigerator" as an example of a machine. Without going to the deails of how a fridge can cool the items, we can think of the door operning mechanism as a part of fulcrum and lever. The door hinges act as a fulcrum, and the door handle can be considered as a lever part, where we apply force. In the absence of the fulcrum(door hinges), it would be a difficult job to open and close the door. Apart from the heavy load lifting, a lever and fulcrum is also used in so many other ways. For example...see-saw game!


A bad carpenter blames his tools! A bad student blames his teachers and books!!

The transformation from a summarized definition of a machine, to an elaborate explaination along with illustrations was pretty interesting to me. I wish I had the time to add some more illustrations by incorporating sliders and show how the loads move with a changing forces and all. But, I'd leave that to your imagination and programming skills.

Since, I've mentioned those skills, let me talk about them a little more! The difference between a good student and a bad student is - the ability to read that boring/formal/condensed 2-3 line definition and still understand/explore all the content(and even more content) mentioned in this page.

I hope that there are some students out there, who has changed his/her attitude towards understanding books. This blog tried to provide some tricks/tips to convert a book into a good book. The authors might not have written the content in the most interesting way. But, it is the duty of the studnets to re-visualize the content! Even if one student makes an effort in understanding more, and exploring more based on the trips/tricks mentioned in this blog, I would be a happy person!!


Anybody with some basic common sense would be able to understand that a phone/fan/refrigerator/calculator etc. are machines. You don't need an engineering degree to understand that. But, you DO NEED and engineering education - if you would like to know how those machines work. That is exactly what the colleges are supposed to teach. So far, you have read about converting that textbook definitions into some easily understandable concepts. Now, I'm going to ask you to do the reverse - using top down approach. Try to understand the working principles....

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