NASA, Illinois Biologists Study Tree Strength

September 12, 2012

Biologists in the Chicago area are teaming up with rocket scientists to study trees – or, more specifically, how trees stand and fall.

The Lisle, Ill.-based Morton Arboretum says a weeklong series of experiments are being conducted in an effort to break new ground about the understanding of tree biomechanics.

The tests partly involve using three-dimensional NASA digital cameras to observe how trees bend and break.

It’s the same technology that was employed to look for potential weak spots in the structure of space shuttles.

The goal is to use the findings to draw up precise mathematical formulas for the strength of trees.

A researcher at The Morton Arboretum, Gary Watson, says that such a formula could help predict areas where weak or damaged trees pose a safety hazard.

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