Destroying stuff for science

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11 Responses to “Destroying stuff for science”

  1. TWX says:

    I used to QA software, and even breaking nonphysical stuff is a lot of fun.  Thing of it is though, the tests have to be real-world applicable.  Smashing things is fun, but the conditions of the smash have to be relevant, even if they are extreme.  I could see, for example, loading up a highway beam with all of the weight of all of the DOT-oversize-permitted loads at the same time and then striking that beam with a just-too-tall load on a trailer whose driver ignored the height warning, and I could see even subjecting things to other similar extreme, but possible conditions.

    • What Why says:

      With structural analysis one does not need to test some crazy scenario like that… although a full size would be fun.  You can simply break the problem down into equations (which are valid through similar testing as above): the ‘beams’ are loaded to a specified uniform capacity, then a lateral force is applied to the bottom compression flange. does the deflection meet criteria? does the stress meet allowable stress design (ASD)? does the shear work? etc…

      And all of these forces are devloped in codes which require a ton of testing and thought process.   but good idea on a fun test.

      • Ito Kagehisa says:

         Structural analysis is well-informed fantasy.  Physical tests are science.   You need both.

  2. crummett says:

    I think the word “Thermotron” in front of anything makes it cooler.

  3. snagglepuss says:

    I am currently retired from the work force, but I would work as a janitor in that joint just to watch the shit that most people take for granted go completely to pieces.

  4. Amelia_G says:

    Henry Petroski, je t’adore. Mieux que ça… mieux que ça…

  5. steph says:

    They also do it for airplanes ; they break a wing for each new model to check that their marging is sufficient. see http://www.myspace.com/video/vid/8773565 http://www.mecamedia.info/index/flash_a380

  6. Ito Kagehisa says:

    Speaking of shake tables, if you work at a place that has a giant Nazi shaker (big enough to test hardened containment vessels mounted on 18-wheel tractor-trailer rigs)  that was brought back on an aircraft carrier when they brought over the big wind tunnels at the end of WWII, and you mount an eight-by-four foot sheet of plywood by its edge to the surface of the shaker, and you pipe the output of a radio into the cycle controls so that the shaker becomes a low quality speaker that can be heard at least a quarter mile away, you will be fired.  Just in case anybody was thinking of doing that.

  7. David says:

    An engineering professor at Oregon State once pointed out that structural engineers and architects don’t want their buildings falling down so they do stress calculations.  They build in a safety factor and then likely double it.   He then pointed out that in the biological world we do just the opposite.   We stress ecological systems.  What? No effect?  Let’s stress it some more.  Still no effect?  Let’s just keep stressing the wetlands, or the forest, or the prairie.  Ah, see, it’s collapsing!    What we need is a few more structural engineers to design safety margins for our biological systems.  

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