The Problems With the FIU Bridge Began Before It Collapsed

Because paying attention to actual engineering wouldn’t be Woke. Shocking photos show there were large cracks in Florida International University bridge five days BEFORE six were crushed to death when it collapsed onto them.

To remind folks, back in March (“Beware the Ides of March”) a pedestrian bridge collapsed crushing several people. Six people died. My take on the issue was that the groups responsible were spending a lot of money to build a monument to diversity. (14 or 15 million dollar grant from the federal .gov was involved.) They just couldn’t be bothered to spend time on the actual engineering. (Math is hard.)

Now it turns out they couldn’t be bothered to pay attention to the fact that their bridge was collapsing before their eyes.

Large cracks appeared in the Florida International University pedestrian bridge just days before it collapsed, killing six.

An update from the National Transport Safety Board says their investigation has revealed significant breaks in the concrete emerged after the bridge was moved to its place above the roadway on March 10.

That is 5 days before the collapse. That is plenty of time to have the road closed. The bridge shored up with timbers. Whatever. But all that is nasty engineering and construction. If you click thru to The Daily Mail, the photos are not of minor cracks from concrete curing too fast. It is hard to gauge size in the photo, because there is no reference, but one crack would appear to be about 1/2 inch or more – right adjacent to where a vertical support meets a deck. (If I saw that kind of crack, I think I would avoid that bridge for awhile.) Maybe I’m mistaken, but the result – five days later – would seem to imply that paranoia would have been appropriate.

Let’s not forget that this pedestrian bridge weighed in at 950 tons. Because beauty. Or something. And those cracks started showing up even before the bridge was lifted into place on the roadway supports.

Here are some previous posts on the bridge collapse.

Hat tip to Irons in the Fire.

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Even More on the War on Math

Anji Bridge, ChinaAn old post on the aftermath of the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami (That’s what the Japanese were calling it for awhile) and the resulting problems at Fukushima-Daiichi nuclear power station showed up in my site stats. So someone was looking at it. That post (and the references to the New York Times and Forbes) makes it clear that fear of math killed more people than radiation.

In order to really understand radiation (and the physics behind it) you need a little bit of calculus. I know – horror of horrors. (Assuming you actually took calculus either in high school or college, 99.99% of you hated it. I majored in Mathematics.)

No one has died from radiation associated with Fukushima Daiichi. Say that again. NO ONE has died.

1600 people died as a result of the panic about radiation, and the actions taken by panicked politicians.

When you evacuate a hospital intensive care unit, you cannot take patients to a high school and expect them to survive.

But I don’t need to revisit that post in detail. In a nutshell, the government and the people didn’t understand the math. So they wanted to do something. (They did many wrong things, but they did do something.) 1600 people died as a result of those “do something!” decisions.

Now, physics and engineering are more than math. But you won’t get very far in either without the math. And without them, you kill 1600 people for no reason because of panic, or you’ll build a bridge that falls down, even before it’s complete, killing people because it is more important to you to have a diverse team, and a beautiful bridge, than for that bridge to last. Even a little.

The photo above is of the Anji Bridge in China, also know as the Zhaozhou Bridge. (Click on the image for a larger view, or there are many photos on the internet.) It spans 37.4 meters as it crosses the Xiao River. Construction took 10 years, and was complete in the year 605. It is a beautiful bridge. (Stone with Iron dovetails.) but that wasn’t the objective. The objective was to build a bridge that would last. Since it has lasted better than 1400 years, I think they got that right as well. The multiple arches make is strong. The open spaces let water flow through if the river floods (apparently it has over the past 1400 years) and it is beautiful. And it is full of math, and engineering, materials science, with maybe a bit of fluid dynamics and probably a dash of geography.

As SiGraybeard says: No, Math Isn’t Racist.

In fact it’s hard to get less racist than math. No matter who works the numbers, regardless of race, age, sex, native language; regardless of anything, anyone starting with the same problem and doing the same work gets the same answer.

You either get the right answer, or you get bridges that fall down.

More on the War on Math

SiGraybeard does an in depth analysis of the War on Math. No, Math Isn’t Racist.

Besides, if people can’t do the simplest arithmetic, they can’t understand the numbers that show their socialist or communist schemes can’t possibly work.

This is in reaction to my previous post on the same topic, in which he noted in the comments:

You know the old adage that, “once is accident, twice is coincidence, three times is enemy action”.

Finally The Left Admits They Want to Outlaw Math

Math Is HardBecause math is hard, and that’s not fair. Or something. Maths textbooks should be banned because they intimidate pupils, headteacher says.

Maths textbooks should be banned because they intimidate pupils, a leading girls’ school headmistress has said.

This woman should retire to her Victorian feinting couch, and not trouble her tiny mind about those hard math problems.

This is the kind of insanity that leads to bridges falling down. “Oh no, math is hard!!”

Because we don’t need math. Or something. Add in We don’t need engineers, or scientists or statisticians or economists, or actuaries, or … Oh, and we won’t need computer security in the future, so math can just be eliminated. When someone talks about elliptic-curve encryption they aren’t talking about drivers’ ED, or if a Mersenne Prime is mentioned they aren’t talking about European literature. The Sieve of Eratosthenes isn’t used in cooking.

Look, I get it. Not everyone is good at math. Not everyone can play the cello like Yo-Yo Ma. I don’t really care if that is fair or not. It doesn’t mean we should eliminate math or the cello. (Oh, and see “You’re not bad at Math, You’re just lazy.”)

Data (and graphs) on Firearm Ownership

I do love the data. Political Calculations presents Firearms, Homicides and Suicides in America.

The graphs alone are worth a look. The first one is Estimated Number of Firearms in Civilian Possession in the United States, 1994 through 2017. That is measured in the 100s of millions, and going up.

I take issue with how some of the data is sliced – I always do if you end up slicing some of it away. In particular, looking only at gun-related suicides implicitly states that eliminating guns would eliminate those suicides. But the history of suicide in Canada doesn’t support that conclusion. (See Suicide vs “Gun-death” Suicide for a review of Canada’s situation, as of 2015 anyway, and some other countries as well.)

But I think the data presented at Political Calculations is worth a look. (Hat tip to Say Uncle)

Engineering and the Math Involved Are Hard: The FIU Bridge Catastrophe

A professor of structural engineering takes a look at the bridge collapse in Miami. FIU Bridge Collapse: Why Müller-Breslau Matters.

The mavens of engineering, who have been screaming for more social justice and less rigor in engineering have been strangely silent this week. And the media is run by a bunch of people who had trouble with high-school algebra, so they are not much help. It was nice to see an article by someone who takes the rigor seriously.

Dr Oliver McGee is a Professor and former Chair (2016-17) of the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Texas Tech University.

Like everything else in this world, bridges are bound by fundamental rules of science and engineering — things like transverse shear stresses, transverse bending moment stresses, bridge deadweight to live-load ratios and, not the least, simple gravity of Sir Issac Newton

The bridge in Miami collapsed for a reason. It was either not designed properly, or it was not constructed properly. (Bridges that are not maintained properly will also collapse – as they discovered in Minnesota several years ago – but this bridge was still under construction.) This article goes into some to the structural engineering principles and math (at the algebra level – no differential equations) that can shed light on why bridges collapse.

Heinrich Franz Bernhard Müller (born May 13, 1851 in Wroclaw, Portland and died April 24, 1925 in Grunewald, Germany, “known as Müller-Breslau from around 1875 to distinguish him from other people with similar names”) was a German civil engineer. He made early advances in the structural analysis of continuous beams and rigid frames used in modern pedestrian and highway bridges and tall buildings.

I won’t inflict the math on you, if you are interested, click through. (Hat tip)