The Bridge Blog A dialog about our new bridge and these web pages
Overview. As a pointy-headed
university professor, my weekend project of bridge photography and
building these web pages generated many questions and introduced me
to just-in-time learning. I enjoy chasing my curiosity and
want to identify ways to encourage younger learners to also enjoy curiosity
chasing and learning.
Learning usually requires repetition while forgetting occurs when
I infrequently use information. Many young learners do not understand
the importance of repetition. Weekly visits to the bridge provided
the repetition necessary to detect changes in the bridge and
many questions and opportunities for learning. Over the course of the
bridge project, I had access to few experts for answering questions.
Rather than a liability, this became an asset and pushed me to improve
my search skills with Google. Soon, I found that answers
to questions encountered during my weekly photo shoots were often
only a Google-search away -
Restoring the Joy in Learning). Consequently Google + Internet became
dependable extensions of my memory.
May 16, 2005: Pylon airflow
Sometimes you never know when your past will catch up with you. When I first
came to MUSC, our outsourced IT support folks could not execute within my
frame of reference - Internet-centric learning. So I formed the Information
Technology Laboratory, aptly named the IT Lab by Nafees BinZafar, one of my
first. The IT Lab was set up to give me the freedom to execute within the
web world and I can honestly say that I have learned more from them than they
from me. I simply ignited their curiosity fuse and then got out of their
way. One of the few rules in the
was that you cannot resign - only graduate.
Nafees and Nathan are two of my graduates that now work for Digital Domain -
doing systems and animation infrastructure - and they continue to contribute
back to our IT Lab. Today Nafees wrote and confessed of being confused by
the design of the tops of the east and west pylons. Being a well trained
graduate of my IT Lab, he did a simulation to explore two different
In his words
Hi Frank. I've been looking at your cooper river bridge pictures.
And I wondered why the tops of the towers were indented, and not flat.
I guessed it had to be for aerodynamic reasons, but I couldn't find anything
on the web about the exact reasons. So I ran a simulation. I couldn't
find the exact dimensions for the tops, so I eyeballed it from your
pictures. For comparison I modelled a tower with a flat top.
I suppose I should have done one with a pointed top also.
I'm attaching movies of the top view and the side view of the simulations.
The wind is blowing in at about 22 mph. The massless tracer smoke is
generated by 2 sources; 1 on top, and 1 on the leeward side. The sims
didn't really show anything numerically conclusive. My simulation
resolution is much too low for that. The vortex shedding frequency seems
a little bit higher in the "flat-top" configuration, and downstream
the flow is more turbulent. Also, there is a very substantial pressure
drop in the indented region. So I suspect that you will have some
really good photo-ops of condensation trails on a cold and windy day.
Here are the two videos (avi and mpg format). As with any collaborative
effort, there are issues. In this case, the avi or mpg files may require
some care when displaying. We are exploring alternative formats.