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Suspension Bridges of Disbelief

Alex Weinberg is a structural engineer, and as such, he notices inaccuracies in movies. He is particularly distracted by the many suspension bridges that get destroyed. "Americans don’t build real bridges anymore, or maintain the ones that we have, but we sure love to blow them up in movies." It’s not so much that they get destroyed that bugs him, but the way that destruction is portrayed goes against the laws of physics. A little consultation with an engineer could go a long way in making those scenes accurate. So Weinberg explains what’s wrong with suspension bridge wreckage in quite a few movies.

Godzilla (2014)

An errant army missile completely severs one of the Golden Gate Bridge’s two main cables. The loss of that cable, which had been supporting the right side of the road deck, should result in a catastrophic collapse: Without one of its two vertical supports, the road deck would hinge downward like a trap door, dropping all the tanks and school buses into the water below.

However, in the film world, bridge suspension cables are purely decorative elements that can be destroyed without consequence. The soldiers continue to battle Godzilla and the drivers motor across the bridge to safety, all oblivious to the physics errors that spared their lives. Godzilla even tugs at the remaining cable, which should at least cause the impossibly floating road deck to sway, but it doesn’t. Even when Godzilla busts through the center of the main span, the function of the bridge is unaffected.

Read about the suspension bridge destruction scenes in Final Destination V, I Am Legend, X-Men: The Last Stand, and The Dark Knight Rises as well at Hackaday. -via Metafilter


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Just thanks for this article...
There are so many incorrectly collapsing suspension bridges in movies and movie posters...
The "Bridge Builder" app shows so much more realistic collapses..
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