Tacoma Narrows Bridge

Dramatic stuff, including an attempted rescue of a dog in the car. (The dog refused to leave the car. It died).

Now, the collapse of the Tacoma Narrows Bridge is often cited as an example of destructive resonance by textbooks and teachers. Only it is not.

This guy from the “Practical Engineering” channel has the best explanation I can find.

The seed of the disaster was planted when the usual trusses were replaced by steel plate girdles. While the wind is capable of exerting a periodic driving force due to a phenomena called voltex shedding, it was not the culprit for breaking the bridge. Instead, it was a kind of self-amplifying phenomena, called aeroelastic flutter (caused by the unique shape of the plate girdle), which caused the bridge to “flutter” till it collapsed.


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