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National Science Foundation

A Special Report


Preparing for the Worst

Preparing for the Worst

Designing an environment that does not yield

Events beyond our control may trigger disasters, but careful preparation is our responsibility – and often within our means.

Beyond learning which factors put us at risk, we can look to cutting-edge research for tools that can help keep us safe.

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The terrorists who attacked the Pentagon and the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001, used fuel-laden airplanes as missiles. Few (if any) building engineers had considered such a threat. The Pentagon damage was severe, and researchers have been studying the attack to learn what design elements can help engineers protect against similar threats. This simulation, created by Purdue University researchers, breaks down the factors that caused the most severe damage during the 0.25 seconds from the plane’s impact to its destruction. Additional information is available at Purdue release on Pentagon simulation.

Credit: Department of Computer Sciences and Computer Graphics Technology, Purdue University

Next: Preparing for the Worst >> Making Buildings Stronger

A Special Report Disasters