10 catastrophic engineering failure GIFs

No matter how trivial the object, everything in our industrialized society had to be designed by a human being at some stage. Every bolt, hose, motor, and everything else has been engineered to do a job, and they usually do those jobs pretty well. However, things can go wrong either because of design issues or simply because they aren’t used properly. That’s what we’re exploring today in GIF form — catastrophic failures. We have 10 GIFs of things going terribly wrong, along with a quick overview of who screwed up and how.

B-2 Stealth Bomber crash

In 2008, a pair of US Air Force B-2 Stealth Bombers were taking off from Andersen Air Force Base in Guam. The full video of the event shows one B-2 take off fine, then the second banks unexpectedly just after leaving the ground. In the GIF above, you can see the pilots eject when it becomes apparent the $1.4 billion aircraft isn’t going to make it. This was the first ever crash of a B-2 Stealth Bomber, which was eventually blamed on a damaged air data sensor.

Sidewalk collapse

This GIF comes from security footage captured in China’s Heilongjiang Province earlier this year. As several people are standing on the sidewalk, it just collapses under their feet. It is unclear what caused the hole to open up, but shoddy construction is the most likely culprit. Luckily, no one was seriously injured.

SpaceX landing

Private space firm SpaceX has been working on the technology to land the first stage of its Falcon 9 rocket so it can be reused. It’s made some great strides in testing this system, but thus far all attempts of landing the rocket following a real launch have failed. This GIF comes from the April landing attempt, which was painfully close to success. There was just too much lateral momentum for the RCS rockets to counteract. Cool explosion, though.

Ford Pinto fire

The Ford Pinto was a mid-sized American car introduced in the 1970s that was completely unremarkable, except for the fact that it had a tendency to burst into flames following a rear-end collision. The fuel tank was quite prone to rupture in such accidents, which left to its eventual recall. The above GIF shows a crash test wherein a Pinto catches fire almost immediately.

CD disintegration

How fast can a standard CD spin before it fails catastrophically? The answer, apparently, is about 170,000 RPM. That’s what we learn from the above GIF, which is kind of mesmerizing. A CD drive might spin at a maximum of 40,000 or 50,000 RPM.

Bulldozers are heavy

Gravity can really screw your day up, especially when you fail to take into account the mass of a bulldozer in relation to the crane you’re operating. This one is clear operator error, but it’s not any less catastrophic. When attempting to lower the bulldozer, the crane flips over the bridge. The operator got away with minor injuries. I would also point out the bulldozer landed treads down, so I’m calling this one a partial success.

Antares explosion

This GIF comes from NASA footage of the catastrophic failure of an Antares rocket built by Orbital Sciences Corporation in late 2014. This was to be a supply run to the International Space Station, but an apparent rupture in the turbo pump of one of the Antares’ Aerojet AJ-26 engines caused it to fall back to Earth and explode.

Wing stress test

This is certainly a catastrophic failure, but it’s an intentional one. What you see above is footage of a Boeing 777 being pushed to the breaking point (literally). The 777 used a new wing design that engineers needed to assess to make sure they could hold up to extreme turbulence. They also wanted to know if the same wings could be used in future planes with greater mass. The wings collapsed at 154 percent of design limit load.

Hornslet wind turbine failure

The above 600 kW wind turbine met its maker (a Danish engineer, I guess) in 2008 when the brake mechanism that was supposed to slow the blades malfunctioned. The incident took place in Hornslet, Denmark near a farmhouse where the residents were fast enough to capture the event on film. The 45 meter tall turbine was removed and replaced with a new one in just a few months. Those Danes take wind power seriously.

SpaceX launch explosion

You’ve probably seen this one before. Just a few months ago, a SpaceX mission to resupply the ISS failed when the Falcon 9 rocket exploded shortly after liftoff. The cause was a two-foot-long designed to hold down helium canisters in the rocket. They are supposed to withstand 10,000 pounds of force, but the defective strut in this rocket failed after just 2,000 pounds of force.

Source: Science – Geek.com

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