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April 18, 2016 AT 1:00 am

NASA Accidentally Discovers Ways to Engineer Buildings That Can Withstand Earthquakes #NASA @NASA

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Serendipitous engineering discovrery from NASA — via Nebraska Blog

In 2013, NASA was working on one particular rocket that was known for violently shaking during launch. Testing revealed that the Ares rocket, a crew launch vehicle, would shake so hard during ascent that it could harm astronauts on board. So one NASA team experimented with controlling the heaviest part of the rocket—its fuel. That got the team thinking: If this technique worked on a rocket, why not a building?

ares_launch_01

To understand this concept a little better, it might be helpful to know that the normal approach to counteracting vibrations is to add more weight to an object. According to Quartz, hundreds of buildings around the world use a system called a tuned mass damper (TMD). A very heavy device, called a secondary mass, is attached to a building to counteract its movements, sort of like a counterweight in a grandfather clock.These systems respond to movements by shifting in the opposite direction. So if an earthquake or high winds force a skyscraper to sway to the right, the TMD responds by swaying to the left—counteracting the motion.

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