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ERIC Number: EJ1079244
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2015-Nov
Pages: 5
Abstractor: As Provided
ISSN: ISSN-0031-921X
The Tacoma Narrows Bridge Collapse on Film and Video
Olson, Don; Hook, Joseph; Doescher, Russell; Wolf, Steven
Physics Teacher, v53 n8 p461-465 Nov 2015
This month marks the 75th anniversary of the Tacoma Narrows Bridge collapse. During a gale on Nov. 7, 1940, the bridge exhibited remarkable oscillations before collapsing spectacularly (Figs. 1-5). Physicists over the years have spent a great deal of time and energy studying this event. By using open-source analysis tools and digitized footage of the disaster, physics students in both high school and college can continue in this tradition. Students can watch footage of "Galloping Gertie," ask scientific questions about the bridge's collapse, analyze data, and draw conclusions from that analysis. Students should be encouraged to pursue their own investigations, but the question that drove our inquiry was this: When physics classes watch modern video showing the oscillations and the free fall of the bridge fragments, are these scenes sped up, slowed down, or at the correct speed compared to what was observed by the eyewitnesses on Nov. 7, 1940?
American Association of Physics Teachers. One Physics Ellipse, College Park, MD 20740. Tel: 301-209-3300; Fax: 301-209-0845; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: High Schools; Secondary Education; Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Washington
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A