This ISA author Q&A was edited by Joel Don, ISA's community manager. The Tao of Measurement: A Philosophical View of Flow and Sensors, co-authored by Jesse Yoder, Ph.D., and the late Richard E. Morley, was recently published by ISA. In this Q&A blog feature, Dr. Yoder provides important insights on the book’s value and significance. Bonus! Click this link to download a free 25-page excerpt from The Tao of Measurement and learn new solutions that can significantly improve the measurement of time, length and area
Q. Why do you believe the book is a “must-read” for all those involved in instrumentation or process control?
A. This book provides indispensable information for anyone involved in instrumentation or process control. It explains the principles of operation pertaining to all the main types of temperature sensors, pressure sensors and transmitters, and flowmeters. It includes a discussion of the relative advantages and disadvantages of different types of temperature sensors and their applications, and covers the main types of pressure sensors and how they work. It explains the theory behind differential pressure (DP) measurement, and describes the operating principles behind the various types of primary elements used with DP transmitters to measure flow. These include orifice plates, Venturi tubes, flow nozzles, and other types.
Many people involved in flow and other instrumentation topics are familiar with the types of products they specialize in, but are less familiar with the operating principles and applications of other types of instrumentation they encounter every day. This is the only book I am aware of that presents a non-technical and understandable explanation of all the main product types related to temperature, pressure, and flow. In three easy-to-read chapters, the book provides practical knowledge that enables anyone involved in these product types to become familiar with the essential information on all these products in one source.
Q. Could you provide summaries of the book’s chapters and what makes them so valuable to read?
A. Well, first I would like to start with the chapters on time, length, and area. They all have a similar structure:
- A review of the history of the development of the units of measurement used to describe the relevant subject
- A discussion of how these terms are used today
- A proposal for completely new units of measurement that avoid some of the difficulties with past and present methods of measurement.
These three chapters describe how the units of measurement that everyone is familiar with and that we use today have developed over time. Some of these terms are rooted in concepts older than Roman chariot wheels. The proposals for new units of measurement attempt to bring our terminology up to date and take advantage of the technology that has been developed over the past 50 years. Each chapter has a handy glossary that defines the key terms related to the subject of the chapter. The chapter on time explains the development of different types of calendars, and how we arrived at the calendar we use today. It explains how clocks evolved, from sundials and water clocks on through mechanical clocks and today’s digital clocks.
The concept of flowtime presented in this chapter is an attempt to take our units of time out of the Babylonian era and into the era of decimal thinking that prevails in much of our methods of measurement today. The chapter on length reviews the development of our commonly used terms for feet, yards, and meters. It examines paradoxes that are present in our concepts of “point” and “line.” Many of these paradoxes become apparent by examining Zeno’s Paradox. It describes why the concept of infinity is needed, given the assumptions present in our geometry. Wide Line Geometry is presented as a way to avoid some of these paradoxes. It presents the idea that lines have width and points have area. These new ways of looking at old concepts avoid the paradoxes uncovered and point the way towards a more coherent understanding of our fundamental geometric concepts.
The chapter on area describes some of the difficulties inherent in Euclidean geometry, which was developed around 300 B.C. Chief among these is the Euclidean method of defining circular area in terms of square inches. Just as a square peg will not fit into a round hole, Euclid’s method requires the introduction of pi (π) to make the equation for circular area work out. This chapter proposes a new geometry based on the round inch, which is a proposed new unit of measurement for circular area. It also looks at other non-Euclidean geometries.
The chapter on flow is a comprehensive look at the different types of flowmeters, including Coriolis, ultrasonic, turbine, and many others. Besides the operating principles, the book describes the applications of each type. It includes an informative paradigm case application for each type and describes the paradigm case method of selecting flowmeters. The chapter eight on the world of sensors and measurement defines sensors and measuring devices. It presents a theory of measuring and concludes with a listing of different types of meters.
Blog Author Q&A Bonus! Click this link to download a free 25-page excerpt from The Tao of Measurement and learn new solutions that can significantly improve the measurement of time, length and area.
Q. What new content or new information does it bring compared to other books on the subject?
A. Unlike other books on the subject, this book presents an easy-to-understand and intuitive explanation of temperature, pressure, and flow technology. Besides including a history of our units of measurement, it presents previously unpublished alternative approaches to these units that avoid paradoxes in our existing terminology and bring our units of measurement in line with 21st century advances and thinking.
Q. Why do you feel it provides a “fresh” look or approach to these subjects?
A. This is a fresh approach because it consolidates intuitive explanations of many types of sensing and measuring technology into a single volume. It also proposes new ways of thinking that, if adopted, would improve our units of measurement and free them from the influence of ancient and out-of-date concepts. These approaches have not been proposed elsewhere and they are proposed for the first time in this revolutionary book.
Q. Are there any specific topic areas of the book that you would specifically like to draw attention to?
A. I would specifically call attention to the chapters on flow and time. The chapter on flow is an authoritative look at all the flow technologies, along with the paradigm case method of flowmeter selection that I first proposed. It also presents the distinction between new-technology and traditional-technology flowmeters, which I first presented to the industry in 2001, and which has become standard terminology within the flowmeter industry. The chapter on time deserves special attention because it presents a fascinating and illuminating look at the history of time measurement. It looks at the historical development of different calendars, and explains how today’s clocks and 60-minute hours have evolved from concepts older than 2,000 years. It proposes the concept of flowtime as a way to divide time into smaller units and bring our time-keeping units into harmony with the decimal thinking that is pervasive elsewhere in the world, especially in the metric system.
Q. Do you have any other comments or perspectives to add?
A. In all, this book combines intuitive explanations of technology with fascinating discussions of our most familiar ideas. It challenges many long-held assumptions, but proposes new solutions that, if adopted, would revolutionize our ways of measuring time, length, and area. The book does more than point out paradoxes in our ordinary way of thinking; it proposes new solutions to avoid those paradoxes. All this is done in a clarity of style that can only come from someone (me) who has spent 45 years writing philosophy, including 28 years writing about instrumentation and flow.
Click this link to download a free chapter from The Tao of Measurement.
About the Author
Jesse Yoder, Ph.D., is president of Flow Research, Inc. in Wakefield, Mass., a company he founded in 1998. He has 28 years of experience as an analyst and writer in process control. He has authored more than 180 market research studies in industrial automation and process control and has written more than 230 published journal articles on instrumentation topics. He has published in Flow Control, Processing, Pipeline & Gas Journal, InTech magazine, Control, and other instrumentation publications. Study topics include coriolis, magnetic, ultrasonic, vortex, thermal, differential pressure, positive displacement, and turbine flowmeters. He has authored two separate six-volume series of studies on gas flow and oil flow, and is a regular speaker at flowmeter conferences, both in the U.S. and abroad. Dr. Yoder studied philosophy at the University of Maryland, The Rockefeller University, and the University of Massachusetts Amherst, where he received a doctorate degree in 1984. He served as an adjunct professor of philosophy for ten years at the University of Massachusetts Lowell and Lafayette College. In 1989 he co-founded the InterChange Technical Writing Conference, which he directed for six years. He is a recognized authority and expert in the area of flow measurement and market research. As an entrepreneur, author, consultant and inventor, he has helped define the concepts used in flow measurement, and is widely respected as an innovator in this field.
About the Author
Richard E. Morley (1932-2017), best known as the father of the programmable logic controller (PLC), is a leading visionary in the field of advanced technological developments and entrepreneur who has founded high technology companies over more than three decades. Among his many accomplishments include the attainment of more than 20 U.S. and foreign patents on products such as the parallel interface machine, hand-held terminal and magnetic thin film. His education in physics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology formed the basis for his interest and expertise in computer design, artificial intelligence, automation and futurism. As an inventor, author, consultant and engineer, Morley has provided the research and development community with many innovations. His peers have acknowledged his contributions with numerous awards, honors and citations. Morley has been honored by several leading organization, such as Inc. magazine, the Franklin Institute, the Society of Manufacturing Engineers and the Engineering Society of Detroit. He also has been inducted into the Manufacturing Hall of Fame.