The huge Maurice J. Tobin Bridge that links Boston and the communities to the north is just three years shy of its 60th birthday. Every morning and sometimes in the evening, the two and one quarter mile cantilevered truss bridge backs up with Boston’s famously awful bumper to bumper traffic. With the horrific Minneapolis I-35 bridge collapse last night, it makes one trapped in traffic on "The Tobin" all more nervous.
I have been mid-span which the roadway bump literally starts bouncing which is especially pronounced when a trick goes by. I’m told it’s supposed to do this to relieve stress. Nonetheless, it’s unnerving given you’re 135 feet above busy Boston Harbor represented at that point by the Mystic River. The sensation of potential danger is accentuated by a large and much publicized LNG depot about a fifth of a mile upriver.
And it’s an old bridge like many in America. On Sept. 10, 1973, an overloaded gravel truck was headed north and hit a bridge beam bringing down a section of the southbound roadway above. A similar accident occurred in 1995. Besides localized damage, the bridge as a whole stood tall. And 34 days after the 1973 accident, the bridge was threatened yet again by a giant fire that destroyed 18 city blocks in Chelsea, Mass.
The engineers and inventors of the post WWII period turned their attention to advancements in electronics, communication, and entertainment. Breakthrough inventions range from LEGOs and computer gaming to the integrated circuit and Ethernet -- a range of advancements that have little in common except they changed our lives.
Neil Fromer is the executive director of the Resnick Institute, a program for energy and sustainability at the California Institute of Technology, working to develop new ideas and research technologies related to providing a sustainable future. He spoke to us about the severity of the current drought in California and how solar energy can help prevent such situations in the future.
From home enthusiasts to workers on the manufacturing floor, everyone's imagination is captured by the potential of 3D printing. Prototyping, spare parts creation, art delivery, human organ creation, and even mass product production are all being targeted as current and potential uses for the technology.
Focus on Fundamentals consists of 45-minute on-line classes that cover a host of technologies. You learn without leaving the comfort of your desk. All classes are taught by subject-matter experts and all are archived. So if you can't attend live, attend at your convenience.