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Showing posts from February, 2014

Chicken or Egg: Causality Dilemma

No, this is not a philosophical article referencing the vicious circle of cause and consequence. I just used a catchy title to draw your attention. So what I really wish to answer is what is more fundamental: Stress or Strain? Now, a few of you might argue as to why this question and tell that stress-strain always co-exist. To answer that, I must tell you that it is by looking back that we have a clear vision of the future. Thus differentiating the primary from the auxiliary, felicitates us in making groundbreaking discoveries. And besides, it’s always good to know how the human brain works and what is more instinctive to the homo sapiens.
Alright, so let’s get the mess sorted. Probably many of us believe that stress has to be fundamental. We apply a force on a body, it develops stresses and leads to deformations/strains. But, this approach has a basic flaw. How do you measure stresses? All the instruments we presently have all measure deflections and it is by calibrating these instrum…

Special Blog: Collapse of Alfred P. Murrah federal Building

Progressive Collapse
When the collapse commences with the failure of one or a few structural components and progresses over the successive other components then it is known as progressive collapse. This can be the simplest possible definition of progressive collapse. But when a progressive collapse can possibly come into the picture? Well, it can be anything ranging from a damaged column, or a damaged connection, or a blast inside the building, a blast outside a building, a vehicle crashing into the building, aftershocks of an earthquake, a storm, a tsunami, anything can be a triggering event. We will discuss all the possible progressive collapse that took place till now and we will also come out with a solution and better understanding towards the subject.
Moving forward to Alfred P. Murrah federal Building, the building was located in the downtown of Oklahoma city, Oklahoma, US. It was, as the name suggests, United States federal government complex. The building was designed by arch…

There are no short-cuts to the things worth doing.

So what is Engineering? Is it some clandestine clan of old people safeguarding the secret of the Universe from prying eyes? Or is it some fancy degree which can be fathomed by only a selected few who pass a scrutinizing test taken in few hours? Or is it some hocus-pocus black magic meant to be understood only by a selected few? For most of us this is the picture we have for engineering:

Yes! Engineering is the sum total of the wisdom of many people smarter than us and we as students can only have a part of the knowledge, isn’t it?
Ah, the good news is engineering is nothing more than physics. Yes, that is correct all that is around us is a direct result of applying simple (?) laws of nature. No, wait a minute, so does that mean that the buildings we see around us is a direct result of applying the laws of motion and not because of some high-tech code that the secret society of civil engineers have imposed upon the society? This is blasphemy! How can one say something against the bible …

Steel - Behavior and importance

First question comes to anyone's mind is, why the hell do we use steel as a construction material? What is so important about it? Well, the answer lies beneath the ground. Iron is one of the most abundant metal present on the planet. It is not very difficult to purify it and mold it in different shapes. Apart from it we can recycle the material very easily. This was the answer regarding it's availability. If you consider it from a strength point of view, well it is very strong and flexible. It is ductile too while helps in saving lives of thousands. It has got not strong but decent resistance against fire. Apart from it, the construction carried out using steel is pretty fast. As compared to a normal concrete structure, steel structure will take very less time to stand tall. 
This was all about advantage of steel. Now lets talk about the behavior of the material. Why? Because to build any structure it is important to understand the behavior of the material. It is the material…

Ductility and Elasticity

Ductility and elasticity,the two most important terms that are discussed frequently in structural engineering. Elasticity defines about how much the material is elastic, that is to which extent the deformations are proportional to the forces applied on the material. While ductility defines the capability of the material to get itself stretched beyond the elastic zone. Let me explain this by taking a real life example. Take a two different material, a rubber band and a very thin steel or copper wire. 
Pull the rubber with your hands by applying the force in exactly opposite direction, and force means a tiny amount of pull. You will notice that the mount of deformations caused by the small pull is very large, but when you leave the rubber band it will come back to it's original position. This means that the rubber band is elastic in nature. Oh, now you got something in your bucket. But wait, here comes the question. Till what magnitude of force can rubber band behave in such a mann…

Brief History of Mechanics

Now if you are a structural engineer, you cannot go far in your life without dealing with mechanics. So I decided to put up an article regarding the very basic entities of mechanics, the objects one uses to relate the physical quantities to mathematics, namely scalars, vectors and tensors. I’ll begin by giving you a sense of what these English words mean in the realm of mechanics.
So, think of a guy beating another random person with his bat (I will let the readers decide if it was a cricket bat or a baseball one).  Now the guy getting beaten does not care where the punches are coming from; he is bound to be in bad shape at the end of it. All that he knows is how hard is he getting punched. This ladies and gentlemen is what we call scalar quantities. Now imagine the guy with a bat going on a cricket field (yes, I am an Indian so I’ll be prejudiced towards cricket). Now his strokes are measured in placement and power. Suddenly he wants to move his bat in a particular direction. So, thi…

Introduction to Structural Madness

Structural Madness, the name of the consulting firm that came across my mind. This is the name that I wish to have when I will be opening up my own structural engineering firm. I love designing structures. I love to analyse them. My passion towards the subject is so strong that almost everyday I am surrounded by it. Structural engineering to me is not just an engineering involving mathematical equations, but for me it is an art. If you are a good artist then no one can stop you from being a good structural engineer.

Structural madness, as the word itself says a thousand words. Let me share some famous structures in my first blog,

Bird's Nest: Designed by Arup, located in Beijing , China.

Akashi Kaikyo Bridge: World's longest suspension bridge located across Akashi Straight, Japan

Burj Al Arab hotel, World's tallest hotel located in Dubai, UAE 

Golden Gate Bridge, One of the oldest suspension bridges across the globe, SF, CA, USA

Guggenheim Museum, Bilbao, Spain. (Wonder c…