Author Archives: Dan VB

Size – A Matter of Perspective

That’s one big BOULDER!  To find more pictures like this one, try a quick Internet search for images matching “large glacial erratic”.  You’ll pull up more amazing pictures of huge rocks resting in strange places.  Here are a couple more … Continue reading Continue reading

Posted in CEE 3514, glacial erratics, specific surface area, Teaching Soil Mechanics

Ignoring Geology – A Slippery Slope

September 2006:  500,000 – 600,000 cubic yards of soil and rock slid off a slope in Killbuck Twp. PA and covered PA Route 65 west of Pittsburgh as well as a busy railroad line.  The debris took days to remove … Continue reading Continue reading

PHD Comics takes a stab at the Italian seismologist case

PHD Comics’ PHD-TV just published an “expose” showing its take on the Italian seismologist case that we talked about earlier in the semester, including some new details I hadn’t heard before.  Really interesting.  The link is (watch the beginning through … Continue reading Continue reading

Can We Fix the System?

The Tonanwanda Town Meeting we had in class was a great learning experience.  I was struck by the unique perspectives that each individual interviewee brought to the table.  Hopefully we all gained greater insight into the complexity of the situation and … Continue reading Continue reading

Posted in Engineering Ethics

Drawing a Line or Walking the Other Way?

Multiple times this semester, Oscar Wilde’s stance on morality has come up, “Morality, like art, means drawing a line someplace.”  I agree with his position to a point.  We must have clear moral standards or we will have none at all. … Continue reading Continue reading

Big Dig Video Link

For anyone interested, here is a link where the recording of the Big Dig talk from my latest blog can be downloaded.  It will download as an executable file to watch.  Of particular interest to our discussion of the interaction … Continue reading Continue reading

Engineers in Politics

Mark’s latest post Spock for President 2016 got me thinking about engineers in politics.  Commenting on his post, I ran across a blog entitled, The Little Blue Engineer by John Bachner, the executive director of the American Society of Foundation Engineers … Continue reading Continue reading

Street Science at the Big Dig

A couple of weeks ago, the geotechnical program was privileged to have Dr. John Christian speak at Virginia Tech on the subject of Boston’s infamous “Big Dig” project.  Dr. Christian is a geotechnical consultant and former MIT professor who has spent … Continue reading Continue reading

Posted in Big Dig, street science

Get Out of Jail Free??

I was intrigued by the discussion of the Italian seismologist’s case in the 10/25 class video. I wish I had been there because I feel like a few important points need to be made, especially with regard to the sentiment … Continue reading Continue reading

Ethics in Earthquake Engineering

The headlines blare: Italian Seismologists Are Going to Jail for Not Being Able to Predict the Future Scientists aghast over Italian quake verdicts Italy Orders Jail Terms for 7 Who Didn’t Warn of Deadly Earthquake These are just a few … Continue reading Continue reading

Posted in communicating science, Engineering Ethics, ethics, Itilian seismologists, Moral Philosophy