Tag Archives: civil engineering


Yesterday A tulip shaped island?(I think), the International Herald Tribune posted an article about Dutch plans to create a tulip-shaped island in the North Sea. The plan was brought up by the Dutch Innovation Platform (Dutch-only) with the goal to showcase the Dutch expertise in water management.

The idea is also mentioned at Wired’s, to be exactly, right here. The posting (it’s a blog, get it?) fires a couple of potshots at the idea, and for this, the author got (quite) some flak and history lessons with the usual bits of chauvinism.

That said, the idea is actually refreshing but not new: Earlier, Dubai decided to create 2 palm-shaped islands, which (naturally and intentionally) can only be seen from high above. With the rise of the (online) availability of satellite pictures (having become commodities, as you will), this is probably going to be an upward trend. This also brings me to the ever-mentioned claim: ‘The Great Wall of China is the only human-made object visible in space’. It’s not (See also this article at space.com).

Dike 1. Dike 2.

Yesterday Water level at Harlingen, 11/09/07portions of Western Europe were on storm watch: A strong North Eastern Western wind and the right (rather wrong) tide caused water levels to rise abnormally.

My civil engineering background was the reason for looking for tidal information at the regular ‘peil stations’ (water level stations): this information is actually harder to find than usual because the Dutch national organization that is in charge of the nations water defences, has an extremely awkward web site (Rijkswaterstaat) where the actual tidal data is hard to find. It’s your lucky day, though: I did this for you.

That brings me back to that picture above: Obviously, the water level at Harlingen reached a height of 3.20 meters, which is over 2 meters than normal (if I’m not wrong, Harlingen reported the highest recorded water levels). Official reports dryly mention that the dikes apparent held nationwide.

update: CBC report on the storm surge


VSpace Worldia Digg, I think, a NASA/MSNBC/Microsoft collaboration to show off the PhotoSynth technology: Space World. I don’t think I ever mentioned it here before: PhotoSynth is an application that can create interactive/3d-like environments from a set of photos. The technology behind is amazing (and promising) but the actual demonstration here is a sort of boring. I was surprised to find out that Microsoft’s engineers been working on a specific Firefox plugin. It works good too.

New Scientist reports that black holes could be worm holes to other dimensions. The article quotes a couple of European physicists who studied some worm holes and were surprised to discover that it’s hard to tell the difference between either worm/black holes. Coming soon: volunteers who’d like to make that daring plunge, or, love to have that extra gravity pull.

I intentionally ignored mentioning anything about bridges and that, particularly after seeing those horrendous images of the collapse of that I-35 bridge (MetaFilter thread, Slashdot follow-up thread on the science of bridge collapsing). Using soundwaves to track down wear and tear in metal and concrete is old news. What do I think caused the collapse? As usual as always: probably the high traffic and a combination of construction work and heat. Not too many old bridges were made for supporting current day’s traffic. Maybe it’s time that governments check out bridges that are older than 20 to 30 years.