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October 12, 2011

The science of great structures

Wrote Bill Gates on his blog:

Recently I watched "Understanding the World's Greatest Structures," taught by Stephen Ressler, and I thought it was fascinating.

Professor Ressler does a great job explaining the basic elements of structures in 24 lectures of 30 minutes each. After the introductory lecture, he uses the next eight to explain the key elements of structure — cables, beams, columns, arches and trusses. The examples and demonstrations are amazingly good. He keeps things interesting at every step.

The rest of the course covers the history of different types of structures. You learn about bridges that collapsed, like the Tacoma Narrows bridge in Washington State, and how engineers have learned from mistakes. The world has many more amazing and beautiful structures than I appreciated. Ressler shows dozens of bridges and buildings that use novel structural approaches, which are quite amazing.

I loved this course. Ressler's enthusiasm for the topic comes through in every lecture. It's possible that the audience for this course isn’t large — perhaps not many other people have thought about why buildings don't fall down. But it you are at all tempted, I encourage you to watch it.

Worth noting: it's not just Bill Gates who thinks the course is outstanding — the average customer rating for the course is 5 out of 5 stars and "55 of 55 customers would recommend the course to a friend."

October 12, 2011 at 02:01 PM | Permalink


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