Home » Made By Monkeys » Structural


Stairways to Heaven


Following the doors-and-windows post, we continue the architectural theme with steps that lead nowhere. All we've got is the whispering wind..."

Faulty Design Implicated in I-35W Bridge Collapse

The NYT reports today that designers were at fault in the collapse of the Interstate 35W bridge in my hometown of Minneapolis, MN on August 1, 2007: “The designers had specified a metal plate that was too thin to serve as a junction of several girders, investigators say.”

Victoria’s Secret Bra: Do Engineering Claims Hold Up?


When it comes to lingerie, my requirements are pretty straightforward: comfort and appearance. No small engineering feat, given that fabric per se is an unwieldy and challenging structural material. The fact that it is weak in compression is particularly problematic in a bra, whose main job is to lift and support a distributed, cantilevered load. Brush up on the physics ...

World Trade Center Attack: UC Professor Faults Design

As we come up on the six year anniversary of the World Trade Center attack of September 11, 2001, it reminded me of an article published last year in Design News based on my interview with a University of California professor of Civil Engineering. After conducting extensive simulation studies of the collapse, he concluded that the buildings could have survived, ...

Normal Accidents: I-35W Bridge, Minneapolis, Minnesota


Over the past two days everyone has been talking about the Interstate freeway bridge collapse in my hometown of Minneapolis, Minnesota. While the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) will be investigating this disaster and it’s expected that we won’t see the investigation concluded for at least a year, it’s interesting to speculate already on what factors contributed to the bridge’s ...

Toaster keeps on going and going and going…..


Sometimes you come across such an awesome, stunning, example of good design, you just can’t help raving about it — as engineer Alden Harsch does here in waxing enthusiastic about his Model 1B14 toaster. And here’s a bit of trivia – it held the title of the world’s most popular toaster for more than a decade in the 1950s. It’s ...