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    Tensile integrity,

        or,

            How the astucious combination of tension and compression can give remarkable strength... 

 Slenderness.

 

     The ratio between the width and the height of a column, for example, goes under the charming name of 

'Slenderness Ratio'.

    Above a certain ratio the structure will fail under load, in ways we will examine.  The columns shewn here are in wood, stone, and steel. As depicted they have Slenderness Ratios of, respectively;

Wood: 22:1  

Stone: 25:1

Steel: 33:1

 

Values accepted as maxima for safe working. 

 

 

 The failure of compressive structures happens by bending...

 

    Precession creates forces at a right-angle to themselves...


 

    When a structure is in compression, the resulting forces are outwards.


 

    Think of a cherry-pip, squeezed between thumb and index...




 

 

    On the contrary, when the structure is in tension, precession brings these forces towards the interior.

    A piece of string, being stretched... 


    Thus, when load is put on a column, it will tend to bend outwards. As soon as these forces become imbalanced, this imbalance tends to increase...

    The column will bend and fail, often suddenly and catastrophically.