6 Small Math Errors That Caused Huge Disasters

If you ever wondered why it is so important to be exact in math, particularly in engineering math, then take a look at cases in which a math error resulted in deaths. Remember the Hyatt Regency disaster in Kansas City some 30 years ago?
When designing their newest hotel to be built in downtown Kansas City, the fine people at Hyatt Regency wanted all the bells and whistles in it. The architectural firm in charge of the building design came up with a series of aerial walkways suspended from the ceiling so that guests could people-watch from a heightened vantage point. All in all, it was a pretty nifty feature. Until it suddenly collapsed and killed more than a hundred people.

Now they know what design flaw caused it, and my mouth dropped open to see how simple it was. Read the rest of the story and others at Cracked. Link -via Digg

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How about a true math error? The Mars Orbiter crashed into Mars instead of its planned orbit (thus the name). This was due to engineers forgetting to convert English units to metric units. This simple mistake set NASA back years and millions of dollars.

http://articles.cnn.com/1999-09-30/tech/9909_30_mars.metric.02_1_climate-orbiter-spacecraft-team-metric-system?_s=PM:TECH
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The list is missing the little physics error that caused a hydrogen bomb test to be three times more powerful than predicted, contaminating islands and sickening some fishermen:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Castle_Bravo
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