Structural Engineering in Action

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License: Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share-Alike Structural Engineering in Action Helston Science
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14 Jan, 2008


How earthquakes can make buildings resonate.

Director's Notes:

This is a film showing how earthquakes can make buildings resonate. We also show you how structural engineers try to prevent earthquake damage to buildings.

You can repeat the experiment yourself by gluing the buildings to a board and moving the board backwards and forwards by hand.

SciCast Notes:

Nominee: Best Engineering Film, 2008

Ah, the Open University. Those of us of a certain age remember when ‘video in the classroom’ either meant watching something as it was broadcast (for which the whole class had to decamp into a special room, where The Television was kept), or — a few years later — grainy recordings of incredibly dull professors wearing dreadful ties, performing tedious experiments that showed nothing much.

At first glance this is rather similar. But stick with it, there are a few subtle distinctions:

Firstly, it’s about twenty minutes shorter than the OU stuff used to be.

Secondly, the experiment is actually rather fun and graphic, and the presenter amply good enough.

And thirdly… thirdly, there’s this bit in the middle where something completely ridiculous happens, that cracks me up every time I watch it. Not so much for what it is, as that when it finishes there’s absolutely no reference to it at all. None. Which is something approaching comedy gold.

Terrific film — one of my favourites.

— Jonathan.