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Researchers Test da Vinci Bridge Design

Friday, October 18, 2019

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Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology are finding that the talents of Leonardo da Vinci, one of the great artists and inventors of the Renaissance, extended to the science of bridge design. Around 500 years after his death, researchers have created a scaled model of the design da Vinci created for a project to link Istanbul with a neighboring city.

According to MIT, in 1502 AD, Sultan Bayezid II sought designs for a bridge that would connect Istanbul with Galata, a design that would have been for the longest bridge in the world at the time. The team wanted to examine whether the inventor’s design would work.

Da Vinci Bridge Design

In order to determine the viability of the structure, recent graduate student Karly Bast Meng, working in collaboration with professor of architecture and of civil and environmental engineering John Ochsendorf and undergraduate Michelle Xie, examined documents, as well as potential materials and construction methods used. Geological conditions were also considered.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology are finding that the talents Leonardo da Vinci, one of the great artists and inventors of the Renaissance, extended to the science of bridge design: Around 500 years after his death, researchers created a scaled model of the design da Vinci created for a project to link Istanbul with a neighboring city. (Pictured: graduate student Karly Bast.)

The team built a scale model in order to test the structure’s strength, but if the bridge had been built in the real world, it would have run roughly 280 meters (roughly 918 feet) long. Supports for masonry bridges in the Renaissance were largely composed of conventional semicircular arches; a more traditional design would have required 10 or more piers to support such a long structure. In contrast, da Vinci’s design was a flattened arch that stood tall enough to let a sailboat pass underneath.

The inventor’s design also featured another unique element: In order to stabilize the span against lateral motion, da Vinci detailed abutments that swept out from both sides, functioning somewhat similar to a person widening their stance in order to gain their balance in a swaying environment. The team also went to determine that the bridge would have likely been made out of stone, as wood or brick could not have carried that kind of load. The team also concluded that the structure, like bridges the Romans had built, would not require any mortar to hold the stone together, as the bridge would stand on its own under gravity’s pull.

Model Testing

In order to test the design, the team split the shape into individual blocks that could be assembled, eventually totaling 126 blocks with the model built at a scale of 1 to 500, running around 32 inches long. The blocks, which took six hours per block to produce, were made using a 3D printer.

Though others have already made real-world equivalents of da Vinci’s design, including a pedestrian bridge in Norway, these projects used construction materials that did not reveal anything about the practical aspects of the engineering.

“It’s all held together by compression only,” said Bast. “We wanted to really show that the forces are all being transferred within the structure.”

When it came time to put the arch together, the final piece—the keystone at the top of the arch—had to be squeezed in. The structure’s resilience was also tested by the bridge being built on two movable platforms. The structure only showed slight deformation and general resilience to horizontal movement until it was stretched to the point of collapse.

   

Tagged categories: Bridges; Design; Infrastructure; NA; North America; Program/Project Management; Research and development

Comment from Sasha A. Bacic , (10/18/2019, 1:59 PM)

We think that we have discovered almost everything. Hère is the Proof that our ancestor know a lot! Nowadays we are still unable to explain how pyramids were built! There is a long path in front of us to go...


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