Regular Life

Regular Life

In three words I can sum up everything I've learned about life: it goes on. – Robert Frost

Send Letters of Support

Today I have a question for the readers. A challenge of sorts, I guess one could say. Don’t worry; I’m soliciting your mind, not your wallet.

On New Year’s Day, while watching Benjamin draw and color things on a portable dry-erase board, I said, “What do you see in that ladder?”

“What?” he said.

“What makes up that ladder you just drew?”

“I don’t know.”

“A stack of H’s. See?” I said.

“Yes, I see. That’s cool.”

Then I wondered what else one could build from letters, and right away the letter “A” came to mind. The A-frame house is the most famous, used throughout history. It also is seen in the simple and common sawhorse.

What other English letters are good for structural support? The letter “D” is pretty good turned 90 degrees counter-clockwise, thanks to the resulting arch. The “B” would suit fine, too, for the same reason. It’s always good to mount a “Z” on a swinging gate.

I know I have at least one physicist reading this, and at least one civil engineer.

Today’s question is this: what letter of the English alphabet is the best for structural support? Uppercase or lowercase. You may turn it but not contort it, you may use it in combination with other letters, and you may give examples of types of structures that would benefit from one letter shape over another. I’m merely asking that you send letters of support.


8 Responses to Send Letters of Support

  1. Not an engineer, but I’d certainly want “R” in my catalouge of structural pieces. “E” makes a decent foundation. And where would bridges be without “I” beams? Shelves and other similarly shaped structures make good use of “L” brackets. “T” is useful in the same way as “I” and I wouldn’t want to be without “X” if I were making a bridge out of toothpicks.

    What a fun way to start the day, Mark. Thanks.

  2. Wow. A, B, D, E, F, H, I, K, L, M, N, T, U, V, W, X, Y, Z – just for bridges.

  3. I would say H or X.

  4. Interesting thought experiment. I know that triangles are the strongest structural support element, geometrically speaking, but there are so many shapes that can be applied to different needs. “I” and “H” can be used pretty much interchangeably, depending on the orientation. (“H” is secretly gay, in case you didn’t know.) So I’m just gonna go with the letter “A” as my favourite selection for the time being, after you lop off the legs.

    And now to go back and catch up on a few posts I missed during my holidays…

  5. I would say “A” and “n”

  6. I have noticed that a lot of bridges especially there in Dallas use that “T” design for the piers. We have a few here in Arkansas. A letter “C” turned 90 degrees clockwise would be a single arch. “M” and “W” would work nicely as well. We have a few bridges up here with piers that resemble letter “M.” An inverted “U” could be an arch of sorts. There various tunnels that have an “O” design.

    If you drew the M like a digital 3 turned 90 degrees counterclockwise would work.

    My choices are M, A, V, C, U. and O. Use could use T, but that letter bothers me some–too top heavy.

  7. Isn’t it amazing that practically every letter in the English language can be used as some sort of constructional support? But another interesting thought is why the symbols of our modern English Alphabet ARE such good architectural designs. Is this correlation due to a thought process? Do pictorial languages such as Hebrew and the Asiatic languages indicate a different process? Could the environment the language developed in influence it’s form? Tall tree for upper Mediterranean and European languages, sand dunes and waves for Arabic?

    Great question, Mark. I’m going to link Eyesights to it.

  8. The next time you’re in one of those buildings that have the trusses showing, check it out. I’m thinking a w or v must be one of the most used “construction letters”.


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