Innovations in All Areas

The collapsed 35W bridge

Today in lecture (October 16th) Tom Fisher talked to us about his new book Designing to Avoid Disasters which discusses fracture critical design. Specifically talking about the 35W bridge collapsing, the design itself was a flaw. The design of the bridge being interconnected, each part depending on every other part, meaning that if one piece of the bridge breaks, the whole bridge will come down (domino effect). Therefore explaining how the bridge collapsed, which other bridges around the country have experienced as well, which explains why some bridges are being completely rebuilt, because no one should have to worry about driving across a bridge and it collapsing. This then lead to the talking about how innovation is necessary for our ecosystem to restart, so to speak.



Innovations need to happen rapidly and right away. Giving us two formulas:

At = Mt , Mt+1, Mt+2 , Mt+3… (Discrete materials increase the temporal profile of the assembly)

At = M(Single material in assembly)

A= Assembly

M= Materials

T= Time

Tom Fisher suggests the use of these will allow for quicker and more efficient assembly. They should consist of either one single material, or materials that can be taken apart individually if maintenance is needed. It would make sense then to take into consideration the use of these formulas due to past faulty designs.

When he was talking about innovations, he was not necessarily talking about materials, more or less, innovations in all areas, such as politics, ideologies, mind set etc. because without these innovations, this extinction phase that he said that we are in will continue to progress. This would be step one in fixing our ecosystem. The second step would be reducing our carbon footprint, which Fisher said is a blue whale. This is sad, but because of our technological advances and our seven billion population, which is still increasing, it really makes sense. However, if we start becoming innovative in many areas, we can begin to counter this phase.


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