Watch the demolition (unbuilding) of the Grace and Pearman Bridges (old Cooper River Bridges)

The Bridge Blog
A dialog about our new bridge and these web pages

Overview. Schools and universities are all about learning - and learning is mostlly brain training. Learning is expedited by repetition and forgetting is expedited by infrequent use of learned skills or information. Tracking the building of the Ravenel Bridge and now tracking the demolition of the Grace and Pearman Bridges bring many questions to me and help me better understand the role Google and the Internet play in just-in-time learning. I enjoy chasing my curiosity and want to identify ways to encourage younger learners to also enjoy curiosity chasing and learning.

Many young learners do not understand the importance of repetition. More important, while experienced learners understand the learning process they often do not realize the destructive effects of the forgetting process. Over the course of the bridge project, I have access to only a few experts. Rather than a liability, this has become an asset and pushed me to improve my search skills with Google. Soon, I realized that answers to questions encountered during my photo adventures were often only a Google-search away. Gene Stead, my first boss and I put these ideas together in a small essay: (see Restoring the Joy in Learning).

Google + Internet have become dependable extensions of my memory. Insights I gain from you and this project will find their way into the learning centers in our schools and universities.

Mon, 19 Sep 2005

September 19, 2005: Another kind of construction, reconstruction and demolition.

From time to time, I have experienced a convergence of events that can, by no means, be a coincidence. Last Thursday I visited friends that were my PhD students while I was a Fulbright Scholar at the University of Patras in Greece. As husband and wife, life is a bit strained at the moment with one working in Patras and the other working as a Post doctoral fellow in the Physics Department at the University of Potsdam, German. Potsdam is just outside Berlin and so I spent the weekend with them in Berlin. Friday was raining so we spent it at the University. Saturday was blue sky everyone with cotton puffs for clouds.

I had two requests - to visit the Brandenburg Gate and to visit the Wall. The story goes like this. In November of 1989, a colleague from the University of Freiberg. During dinner we discussed as a family, what was happening in Eastern Europe. Each day, stories of trains of refugees passing through Hungary and into German became stronger and stronger. I asked my friend, what about the Berlin wall - will it ever come down. Without hesitation, he replied - "not during my life". Later we turned the TV on and watched the evening news as the Berlin Wall was coming down. So to visit Berlin and not touch the wall - impossible.

Here is the Brandenburg Gate - as seen from the north and from the south

I was a big fan of John le Carre - a British spy novelist - and the Brandenburg Gate was a point of spy exchanges - Checkpoint Charlie. More strong emotions here than I expected - and a more complete story is included in the stories page

As you can see, there is construction in Berlin, reconstruction and memorials of past structions designed to contain and restrain interactions among free people.

posted at: 13:26 | path: | permanent link to this entry

Wed, 14 Sep 2005

September 14, 2005: Fixing the Grace Bridge

Lee Graves in Tomball Texas found our web site and contributed the following story from his father, James R. Graves, senior designer of the Pearman Bridge.

"I recently discovered your website showing the "unbuilding" of the old
bridges.  My father, James R. Graves, was the senior designer of the old
Pearman bridge so I feel a real connection with the two bridges. Several
years later he was made Bridge Engineer of the SC Highway Department.  You
probably do not know a very interestoing story regarding the old Grace
bridge.  During construction of the Pearman bridge, it was discovered that
the old timber pilings supporting the first pier of the old bridge on the
Charleston side were virtually eaten away by marine worms and the old bridge
was in real danger of collapsing, and in fact the old bridge was leaning
several feet out of plumb.  It was decided to put a cable around the old
pier, pull it back into alignment, and pour a concrete casing around the
remains of the timber pilings.  When the old bridge is demolished down to
the piers, you might take a close look at the footing of that first pier."

And just to keep life interesting - here is today's projection of Hurricane Ophelia. Ophelia has been just sort of chillin' out a bit - about 150 miles east of Charleston. NOAA provides a very useful service with their projections and advisories. I've included these on the main bridge web page. We have a more compresensive aggregation of weather related images at MUSC.

Infrared Image and the NOAA projection (click image for full presentation

posted at: 09:19 | path: | permanent link to this entry

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frank.starmer at

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