Posted on April 6th, 2015 by Subash Poudel
Engineering has been all about the intricacies of differentiation and integration of partial and ordinary differential equations. Four years have past at UPenn dwelling in numbers and formulas that I barely understood. I was even more confused about using those results and methods when it came to real life.
I always wondered whether the designers really used the Young’s Modulus and formulas for tensile strength anywhere in the process of constructing those beautiful stairs. If they did, how and why was the beauty not compromised with boring equations? After all I never imagined that those equations could help build something so wonderful and aesthetically pleasing.
Some stairs start in the middle of nowhere, and some run to nowhere, but they all exist to serve a purpose. For some individuals, stairs are just pieces of concrete that serve them to reach higher ground, for others, they serve as a banal place to kill time. Some find stairs as a place to rest and wonder about a million things; others just pass by.
For me, stairs are intriguing although I am not sure whether it is the art or the structural integrity of the stairs that I find more beautiful. Their geometry fascinates me and their beauty never cease to amuse me. Every time I pass by unusual stairs, I am amused as to how well the designers combine the theoretical equations with a genuine sense of aesthetics to create them. Did theory or laws require the bars and the railings on the side of the stairs or was it just the desire of designers to put them on as fashion? If it was just for fashion, why do every set of stairs have similar looking bars? If it was required by the boring equations, why do all of them look equally amazing?
Although I wish numbers and formulas were equally pleasing, stairs or equations, they are both constructed one step at a time and they both lay strong foundations for continuous use many years into the future, as they serve a utilitarian purpose, and look wonderful when seen from the top.
Photography and Text by Subash Poudel, Copyright 2015
About the Author: Subash Poudel is a senior Engineering student enrolled at the University of Pennsylvania, Class of 2015.