Humans Versus Nature, Yet Again

There are four very large rivers in the northeastern U.S. that flow basically north south: the Connecticut, which that makes up the boundary between Vermont and New Hampshire before cutting Massachusetts and Connecticut in two and entering the Long Island Sound at New Haven; the Hudson which runs south near the east edge of New …

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Structural Mechanisms and Variability

Most engineering concerns things that change over time. The objects of interest to electrical, mechanical, and chemical engineers, for example, are definitely not static. Structural engineering reached maturity in part by simplifying loading to “quasi-static” status: if we assumed that load is applied to our structures so slowly that there are no dynamic effects, the …

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Wrong In Several Ways

I’ve written before about wood bowstring trusses (good, bad, and weird) but I did not have this patent in front of me when I did, and it raises a few more questions. It plays a bit with the timeline of the US origin bowstring trusses and it brings up, again, earlier work in Ireland. Since …

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A Mixed Palette

I feel like every time I mention the Williamsburg I disparage it – because I don’t like its appearance and several of the design details that distinguish it – but it’s important to remember that it was an important milestone in suspension-bridge construction. It took the main-span record from the Brooklyn Bridge (if only by …

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Every structural material has its strengths and its weaknesses, and each has a feel and a look. But it can get confused, like the wood-grain concrete in the photo above. Old concrete was board-formed, cast in wood forms typically made of 1 by 6 planks. The easy way to identify board-formed concrete is to look …

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