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Tensegrity Structures

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Author:Paul Flavin
Description: "Compression and Tension are good; Torque's a Killer. Plato, Fuller and the three little pigs." "Cubes (constructed with beams) and houses can and do collapse when a sufficient horizontal (shearing) force is applied above the foundation. The walls act as levers, creating torque, and the house deals with the stress by destroying itself. Beams and cables have strength in compression and tension respectively, but both are poor in resisting torque. Can a lightweight structure be designed so that a horizontal force above the base creates compression and tension but no torque?" 'Tensegrity' structures made with rubber bands are all in tension and paradoxically have the dual roles of holding the beams apart, and the structure together, in a flexible and stable equilibrium.

Levels: Middle School (6-8), High School (9-12), College
Languages: English
Resource Types: Problems/Puzzles
Math Topics: Higher-Dimensional Geometry, Art, Architecture, Engineering

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