Cambridge, England & The Mathematical Bridge

I recently had the enjoyable experience of a tour around some of the many colleges of the University of Cambridge. As part of the tour we witnessed the (or one of) Mathematical Bridge that crosses the river Camb connecting the buildings of one of the colleges.  The bridge is made of wood and its concept and original design stems back to the mid 1700’s with the idea of a series of tangents that form an arc with appropriate radial members that result in a self-sustaining and rigid design without the use of nails or bolts to secure the members.  To the best I can tell this was never realized in practice, yet many engineering students allegedly disassembled the bridge and then could not reconstruct it without the use of bolts.  The more popular myth around the bridge is that it was a creation of Isaac Newton, although all the references of the bridge being built seem to have occurred a couple decades after Newtons passing.  Nonetheless, for anyone making a trip to England it is highly recommended that you include Cambridge on your tour, taking time to see the downtown area which is consumed by the colleges of Cambridge.  BTW, don’t miss some time in one of the many pubs!

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