The Great Bridge Controversy

James Paul Fink
Department of Computer Science
Gettysburg College, Gettysburg, PA


Once upon a time long ago, a bridge collapsed. The date was November 7, 1940, and the bridge was the Tacoma Narrows Bridge. This spectacular collapse was captured on film, and resonance is frequently and conveniently blamed for the disaster. But what really happened on that fateful day? What was the real culprit? In this talk, we will take a closer look at the fascinating story of the Tacoma Narrows Bridge collapse and the ensuing controversy over its cause.


Jim graduated from Drexel University with a B.S. in physics (1963) and earned an M.S. in mathematics (1965) and a Ph.D. in mathematics (1967) from Stanford University. Before coming to Gettysburg College in 1992, Jim spent 19 years at the University of Pittsburgh and 6 years at Butler University (Indianapolis). His professional interests include differential equations, numerical analysis, and dynamical systems. He has published over 35 articles, co-edited a research textbook, and serves on the editorial board of a professional journal. He also enjoys skiing, running, traveling, and, of course, good food and fine wine.

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