UCSB Science Line
Sponge Spicules Nerve Cells Galaxy Abalone Shell Nickel Succinate X-ray Lens Lupine
UCSB Science Line
How it Works
Ask a Question
Search Topics
Our Scientists
Science Links
Contact Information
What type of bridge is built the most? Which design is the strongest? How are they tested? What materials are the strongest? How much planning goes into the design? How often are bridges checked? How are different bridge designs selected?
Question Date: 2007-12-15
Answer 1:

Arches, or so I would guess, are the strongest designs. How are they tested?Good question. I'm sure that they are tested by subjecting them to carrying weights such as they would be expected to carry. Thereafter, they are rated as being able to carry that weight. Of course, this is just the largest weight that they are known to be able to carry; they can probably carry larger weights, but this is dangerous because it is not known where the point of failure will be.

The strongest materials are the Biphasic materials composed of something with great tensile strength (e.g. protein) and something with great compressional strength (e.g. a mineral) will make the strongest bridges, but so far only living organisms are able to build materials like that, and when they do they are sufficiently porous because they primary function in other ways than just to provide support (e.g. wood is used by trees to carry water through the plant, in addition to hold it up). As a result, something solid, but less structurally strong, makes for stronger bridges. Metals are a good choice,and I think that most modern bridges are made out of steel.

There goes a lot of planning into the design.

The bridges are not terribly often checked. It probably depends on the bridge.I'm sure some are never checked, except by the traffic moving over them.

Click Here to return to the search form.

University of California, Santa Barbara Materials Research Laboratory National Science Foundation
This program is co-sponsored by the National Science Foundation and UCSB School-University Partnerships
Copyright © 2020 The Regents of the University of California,
All Rights Reserved.
UCSB Terms of Use