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On July 21, 2003, a 300-foot-tall railroad structure spanning a
gorge in north-central Pennsylvania collapsed dramatically. A bridge
that had carried trains for more than a century was gone in just 30
seconds. The historic Kinzua Viaduct, the world’s tallest
bridge when it was originally built in 1882, had been crumpled by a
tornado. How? This question was answered by a high-tech forensic
reconstruction that provides an example of what modeling and
visualization can reveal—and how vulnerable tall railroad
bridges can be to high winds.
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