Galileo was wrong: The geometrical design of masonry arches

Huerta Fernández, Santiago (2006). Galileo was wrong: The geometrical design of masonry arches. "Nexus Network Journal. Architecture and Mathematics", v. 8 ; pp. 25-51. ISSN 1590-5896.

Description

Title: Galileo was wrong: The geometrical design of masonry arches
Author/s:
  • Huerta Fernández, Santiago
Item Type: Article
Título de Revista/Publicación: Nexus Network Journal. Architecture and Mathematics
Date: 2006
ISSN: 1590-5896
Volume: 8
Subjects:
Freetext Keywords: arcos, bóvedas, cúpulas, estribos, historia de la construcción, estabilidad, geometría, galileo, transformación afín arches, vaults, domes, buttresses, geometry, stability, scale, square-cube law, limit analysis, construction history, affine transformation
Faculty: E.T.S. Arquitectura (UPM)
Department: Estructuras de Edificación [hasta 2014]
Creative Commons Licenses: Recognition - No derivative works - Non commercial

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Abstract

Since antiquity master builders have used always simple geometrical rules for designing arches. Typically, for a certain form, the thickness is a fraction of the span. This is a proportional design independent of the scale: the same ratio thickness/span applies for spans of 10 m or 100 m. The same kind of rules was also used for more complex problems, like the design of a buttress for a spatial cross-vault. Galileo attacked this kind of proportional design in his Dialogues. He stated the so-called square-cube law: internal stresses grow linearly with scale and therefore the elements of the structures must become thicker in proportion. This law has been accepted many times uncritically for engineering historians, who have considered the traditional geometrical design as unscientific and incorrect. In fact, Galileo’s law applies only to strength problems. Stability problems, such as the masonry arch problem, are governed by geometry. Therefore, Galileo was wrong in applying his reasoning to masonry buildings.

More information

Item ID: 2499
DC Identifier: http://oa.upm.es/2499/
OAI Identifier: oai:oa.upm.es:2499
Deposited by: Profesor S. Huerta
Deposited on: 07 Mar 2010 10:21
Last Modified: 20 Apr 2016 12:10
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