Do Not Taunt Massive Quake Ball
Image by Guillaume Paumier / Wikimedia Commons, CC-by-sa-3.0
As anyone who has built a tower out of blocks or LEGO knows, as they get taller, the more small movements at the base can be magnified into catastrophic motion at the top. This is just as true for skyscrapers, increasingly so as we get closer to building kilometer-high towers. It turns out that there's a solution: tuned mass dampers. Using mass as a way of counteracting vibration, tuned mass dampers can be found in a variety of systems, from transmission lines to bridges. The biggest ones can be found in huge towers. "Biggest" and "huge" meaning, for example, the 730 ton tuned mass damper ball built into the 509-meter Taipei 101 tower, currently the tallest occupied building in the world.
Given the magnitude of the Sichuan earthquake, it should be no surprise that it was felt hundreds of miles away in Taipei. Given the rise of the Participatory Panopticon, neither should it surprise that someone was there to video the sway while the earthquake struck.