UC researcher puts buildings through earthquakes

October 14, 2010 7:13:02 PM PDT
It is an uncomfortable fact for Californians that most of the structures in which we live and work pre-date the latest earthquake building codes. So how will those buildings fare in the next big one and how can we best fix them? A UC Berkeley researcher has an elaborate project under way to find out.

Of all the world's unusual spectator pastimes, here is one you probably do not know about. It involves sitting in a large laboratory, staring at a concrete beam, waiting for it to crack.

"It's better watching here, than where there are lives at stake," structural engineer Cynthia Perry said.

Wael Hassan's dissertation at UC Berkeley is looking at older forms of structural engineering and seeing if they will hold in a major earthquake.

The team tests parts of buildings and pushes them to the breaking point, essentially forcing them to endure earthquakes in slow motion.