Purdue University Recreates 9/11 in Science-Driven Animation

A Purdue University research team has developed a computer simulation of the Sept. 11, 2001 attack on the World Trade Center with an aim to helping build stronger buildings in the future.

Although there have been many graphical interpretations of the incident made, the Purdue team said its model takes into account the actual architectural dynamics of the buildings as they were hit.

"The crashes and computer models you often see on television are not scientifically accurate," said Purdue computer science professor Voicu Popescu, who, with Mete Sozen, a professor of structural engineering, developed the model.

The Purdue simulation took years to create, including "weeks of supercomputer time over a number of years to simulate the event in many credible angles of impact of the aircraft," said Sozen.

Like other simulations, the Purdue model shows that the heat of burning jet fuel rather than the impact itself caused the most damage to the buildings. The researchers said they hope their new model will help generate ideas for new structural support systems in the future.  

The animation can be viewed from Purdue University's website at the link below.

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Paul McCloskey is contributing editor of Syllabus.

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