Too much knowledge!

There was a recent tweet from TED Talks that listed ‘TED’s winter reading list: 78 feel-good books’. I find lists like this, along with reviews in the weekend papers, a good way of identifying books that I might be interested in reading. Having said that, nothing beats browsing in book shops, both new and second hand, in addition to the local library and discovering a book by serendipity. In this instance, I was so taken by the list that I decided to share it with my family. Within a short space of time there was a reply from my eldest son. He had posted a partial screenshot of the list:

Peaceful Parent, Happy Siblings: How to Stop the Fighting and Raise Friends for Life,
by Dr Laura Markham

He commented: ‘Found the fiction book.’ Needless to say, he has some work to do to get back in favour!

Of the remaining 77 books on the list, there were a number that I would be interested in reading, which brings me to the first of my preoccupations: how am I going to get time to read all of the books I want to read? My second related preoccupation is brought to the fore every month when I receive the latest issue of the Insight journal. I look at the various papers, describing developments and new techniques, and then the relevant papers listed in the NDT Info section, and wonder how the profession can take cognisance of all this knowledge and information.

Back in September 2015, I suggested that the establishment of a proper NDT information repository, building on the Insight articles and the database given in Insight every month, but with an appropriate classification and ranking system, would be beneficial for the design and validation of inspections and equipment. I still think that this would be a good idea, but I think it needs complementing with a higher level of easily accessible information. In his recent book, when commenting on his sources, Fergal Keane states that, while he is an enthusiast for digital information, he holds dear the feel of a book in his hands. I have the same inclination. I was recently looking for some details of a solution to a regularly occurring problem in ultrasonic testing. My keyword-dependent internet search mostly brought up papers on phased arrays. Not what I was looking for. What I really wanted was a reference book that had the solution in it, along with details of other fundamental principles.

In the past, Krautkrämer and Krautkrämer’s Ultrasonic Testing of Materials was my go-to source. The latest edition dates from 1990 and more recent books tend to be more specialised, focused on particular aspects such as modelling or phased arrays. Then, the BINDT shop has Eddy Current Testing Technology and two volumes of the Infrared Thermography Handbook; I would need to rely on others to tell me the target audience and application for these. Across the Atlantic, ASNT has a major undertaking in compiling the body of knowledge for non-destructive technologies. The fourth edition of its handbook series is currently being produced: the first two volumes are in print and two more are in the preparation stages. The third edition had ten volumes (see covering the major NDT technologies. It has been a while since I looked at a version of this handbook so, again, any views people may have would be welcome.

At a more practical application level for ultrasonics, Drury’s Ultrasonic Flaw Detection for Technicians is a favourite, with an updated third edition also available, and NDT reference formulae are available via BINDT in book and app formats. Despite the above, I still think there is a need to make NDT knowledge, and especially new key knowledge, more easily accessible at an implementation level. I am not advocating that people need to be spoon fed, but we can at least make access to the main principles easier and, if people need more detailed information, they can follow the reference trail.

Having halved my second preoccupation by sharing, I am now off to address the first.

Please note that the views expressed in this column are the author’s own personal ramblings for the purpose of encouraging discussion within NDT News. They do not represent the views of Wood or BINDT.

Letters can be mailed to The Editor, NDT News, Midsummer House, Riverside Way, Bedford Road, Northampton NN1 5NX. Fax: +44 (0)1604 438300; Email: or email Bernard McGrath direct at

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