engineering, humor, STEM

Creativity Averted Catastrophe

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before-afterDesigned and built long before there were supercomputers, the great Gothic cathedrals often developed cracks and bulges.hernia-support-belt_200x206

When more buttressing did not look like it would be enough to avert a catastrophic collapse at Amiens, the engineers there devised a way to get the net effect of putting a really big and really strong hernia support belt around the cathedral walls.  Cathedrals don’t wear clothes; how do U hide such a belt?  How do U cinch it?  How do U accomplish all that with medieval technology?

The answers are sketched in the Wikipedia article on the Amiens Cathedral and visualized in a 2010 NOVA episode on PBS: Building the Great Cathedrals.  (To read more detail, look for “iron” in the transcript.)  U can blame me for bringing up hernias.

Dunno whether the engineers at Amiens were called ingénieurs at the time; at least one of them should have been called créatif.  The cathedral is an enduring monument to the faith of many and the creativity of some, including a few engineers.

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8 thoughts on “Creativity Averted Catastrophe

  1. Heh… I know your analogy is a comparison to the metal belt surrounding the cathedral, but I would never otherwise have thought of a hernia support belt (or back belt) as a ‘flying buttress’ … the thought makes me smile.

    Clever response to the challenge Mr. Curmudgeon! 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks.

      At Amiens and elsewhere, they did add flying buttresses (sometimes directly to the walls and sometimes to older flying buttresses), but Amiens is the only place known to me where somebody said “We gotta go outside the box now. Let’s …” and proposed what reminded me of a humongous hernia support belt. I am both surprized and glad that it worked. Also glad that I personally don’t need any belts beyond the hold-my-pants-up kind.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. 😆 Your post made me think of the torturous corsets women were made to wear for centuries. Since cathedrals were outfitted with something similar, I wonder if that knowledge would have eased women’s sufferings back then; knowing God, too, had battled bulges.

    Liked by 1 person

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