The Amateur Bridge Engineers Have Logged On

In Baltimore, we have a mix of official information, verifiable information obtained via reporting, random speculation from well-meaning experts, random speculation from well-meaning amateurs, actively bad conspiracy theories.
The Amateur Bridge Engineers Have Logged On
Screengrab: DMV News Live
404 Media is a journalist-owned website. Sign up to support our work and for free access to this article. Learn why we require this here.

I woke up this morning before the sun came up in Los Angeles, instinctively opened Reddit, and saw a post about how one of the most important bridges in Maryland, where I was born and raised, had collapsed because a cargo ship ran into a support beam. I texted my mom to ask if, for some reason, anyone in my family had been driving over the Key Bridge in the middle of the night (they were not). Then, for some reason, I scrolled the comments on the Reddit post.

Mere hours after a surely devastating bridge collapse that we know very little about, entire narratives were playing out on Twitter, in Reddit comments, on r/conspiracy, and everywhere else people post online. 

Many of the top comments on this post are trying to explain why a bridge would collapse if a giant, out-of-control cargo ship ran into one of its support beams. Then a mix of presumably real civil engineers, amateur Bridge Knowers and political commentators logged on to estimate whether the possible amount of force (Force = Mass x Acceleration, many are reminding people) should have been enough to bring down the bridge, whether the bridge should have been reinforced, discuss how the bridge should have been designed, guess how long it would take to rebuild the bridge, guess how much it would cost to rebuild the bridge, speculate about whether this was a terrorist attack, if there was a cyber component, whether this would impact Amazon deliveries, guess its impact on the new car supply chain, etc.

Sign up for free access to this post

Free members get access to posts like this one along with an email round-up of our week's stories.