A bridge with a nervous system

352144488_4a1dbec18c_m Is this a great idea for engineering, or a way to make our toasters self-aware and kill us all?

Researchers want to build in to bridges, airplanes, and other large structures a type of nervous system that, among other things, would detect any defects such as cracks or rust, and relay that to a central computer that could tell engineers and repair workers what needed to be fixed.  This Structural Health Monitoring (SMH) system would use ultrasound waves travelling through really teeny, tiny fibers embedded into the material to detect any potential dangers.  After the recent airline maintenance scandal in the US, this could really be useful.

(Note: I also came across this book from a conference in Tokyo in 2003 on the same topic for you eggheads who really want to get into this.  Forgive me if I don’t read all 1300 pages of engineering articles)

(via Scitechdaily) (image from massdistraction)