Made by Monkeys: Structural Reviews

Nasa runs helicopter honeycomb crash test

In one way this is just an excuse to see a crash test of a helicopter, but of course NASA has the most serious intentions for its crash countermeasures… Specifically, it is testing the effectiveness of a “deployable energy absorber” it has created. The goal is to lessen the destructive…

Read More

Stick a pipe out the wall, no one will notice

Thanks to “Panda” again for this one – following the pics of the “Juliet balconies” and the stairways to nowhere, he certainly pays attention to his surroundings. “Just spotted this air con exhaust pipe coming out of the middle of the wall on our walk today,” he writes. “Very weird.” Can…

Read More

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… Thanks to David Mery for the first two, and the last one is from the Californian Winchester Mystery House Please share any other mysterious steps you…

Read More

Close escape from exploding wind turbine

In the UK, objections to wind farms are often made on the grounds of “aestheticism”, the twisting blades spoiling otherwise perfect countryside views. Hmmm. IMHO this is just NIMBY-ism in another guise… However, wind turbines can be far from perfect, as this video darkly and dramatically demonstrates. Thanks to…

Read More

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…

Read More

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…

Read More

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…

Read More

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…

Read More