Saturday, August 01, 2009

take it to the bridge - but only if it hasn't fallen down

As I've mentioned a couple of times before there's something inherently fascinating about bridges, and suspension bridges in particular. Just to exploit the frankly minuscule probability that it's not just me, here are some links. Well, it can't be just me or there wouldn't be any links to provide, would there?
  • The Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco is probably the most iconic and instantly recognisable bridge in the world. No wonder then that it's a magnet for people who want to end it all in a more grand and epic way than just an overdose or something like that. Here's a trailer for the 2006 documentary The Bridge which addresses precisely this subject, as does this interesting New Yorker article from 2003. This post from Strange Maps provides a graphical representation of where people jump from - generally facing the city, it turns out, for reasons that may be complex and psychological or may just be related to that being the side the pedestrian walkway is on (the other side being a cyclepath). The vertigo-inducing image is from the National Geographic article linked above. Remarkably, through the magic of Google Street View you can now transport yourself to the exact spot where most people jump off - check out the number 69 on the roadside lamp-post.
  • China is currently the place to be for massive engineering projects. This article from the always fascinating Deputy Dog's blog has some pictures of what will be, when completed, the highest road bridge in the world, annihilating the current record held by the puny Millau Viaduct in France. Some video footage can be found here - unless you speak Chinese the commentary will be pretty much incomprehensible though. Note that although it sounds like they're saying "sudoku" repeatedly it is in fact Siduhe - the bridge being called the Siduhe Grand Bridge, apparently. Other fascinating bridge-related posts from the same blog can be found here, here and here.
  • Finally here's some engineering snuff porn for you - the collapse of the first Tacoma Narrows Bridge in 1940. Some fascinating colour footage can be found here - amazingly the only fatality was a dog left in the lone car that can be seen on the bridge. If you want to earn trivia points at dinner parties and have women literally flock around you panting with barely-suppressed lust (and who doesn't?) you can point out when someone murmurs sagely about "resonance" that it was actually a related but distinct phenomenon called aeroelastic flutter. Then sit back and wait for jaws to drop to the table, and knickers to drop to the floor. More info on the bridge's construction and collapse (plus images including the one reproduced here) can be found at this University of Washington page.

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