EARTHQUAKES SOMETIMES CRUMBLE THE STRUCTURES WE SO CAREFULLY DESIGN.

Men who wish to know about the world must learn about it in its particular details –

Heraclitus (c. 535-c. 475 B.C.)

The laws of Newtonian physics go hand-in-hand with engineering. The relationship between a falling apple and earth is well known. The concepts of displacement and velocity and acceleration are defined precisely with the calculus invented (by Newton, if not Leibnitz) for that purpose. Computers, large and small, based on artificial intelligence (AI) can crunch vast numbers of stress analysis calculations with incomprehensible speed and accuracy.

Great technical libraries are filled with books, periodicals, standards, codes and reports of every kind that document our knowledge.  

Yet earthquakes sometimes crumble the structures we so carefully design. Airplanes can fall inexplicably from the sky. And, only the foolhardy engineer would dare predict exactly when apple and earth will collide. Have we failed as scientists and engineers? Not at all! Apples just ain’t completely round.

Nature appears to be a complex amalgam of simple things bound by an equally simple set of rules inviolate. Science seeks to quantify these rules through observations of the interactions between these basic components in isolated system. Unfortunately, when left on their own without the constraints of experimental controls, the system can quickly become complicated. The fall of the apple, dictated primarily by the action of gravity, is affected by the environment through which it passes.

The calculation of drag, a relatively straightforward matter for a perfect sphere, is nearly impossible to calculate due to the irregular geometry of an apple tumbling towards earth. So it is that engineers who apply the finding of science must do so with the fore-knowledge that perfect understanding is unattainable. Some failures will occur despite their best efforts. The risks of assumptions and approximations are an integral part of engineering design. And, the ability to judge when round apples are reasonable approximation is a necessary tool in the toolbox of every responsible engineer. 

Today, Micro-Measurements miniature strain gage sensors with Advanced Sensors technology, as part of Industry 4.0 and the Industrial Internet of Things (IIOT), have a profound impact on the machine design industry, which is driving the need for smarter machines and robots capable of solving more complex manufacturing challenges.

The result is a growth in machine dimension and complexity, which present new challenges that require a multi-disciplinary engineering approach (electrical, mechanical, software etc.) to product development. This complexity puts a tremendous amount of pressure on the product development groups to deliver high quality products, on time and on budget.

In Strainblog you can read and learn how the right strain gage can help you eliminate barriers between your electrical, mechanical and software engineering teams.

Last but not least , just as in a chess game, where the player strategically thinks many steps ahead before making a move, the stress analyst must think well ahead before selecting a strain gage. Selecting a strain gage sensor and accessories that are inappropriate or not optimal can result in unexpected consequences which, in some cases, could be catastrophic for the design of the structure.

yhernik's picture

Yuval Hernik

StrainBlog Editor in Chief