It Was the Death Eaters!

Just got back from seeing Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. My previous favourite in the series was Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, but the new film has clinched my vote. The cinematography was excellent, the acting has improved, and the overall feel of the movie was true to the novel.  If you get a chance to see it in theatres, I’d definitely say it’s worth it.

One detail remains fresh in my memory, and I feel like I must do it some justice. The movie opens (don’t worry, I’m not spoiling anything important) right were it left off with Harry and Dumbledore facing a barrage of photographers in the Ministry of Magic following the official return of the Dark Lord. Shortly after, three death eaters streak across London (no, this is a PG film, I’m referring to how they fly around and leave a trail of black smoke behind them) and kidnap Olivander, the wandmaker from Diagon Alley. As they’re flying back from their mission they pass by a very remarkable and unique structure: The Millennium Bridge. Shortly after whizzing past the bridge, it begins to shake uncontrollably, its load-bearing cables snap, and the entire bridge collapses into the Thames river.

The Millennium Bridge, following its collapse in the movie, "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince"
The Millennium Bridge, following its collapse in the movie, "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince"

So, what’s so special about this bridge? If you’re from the UK, or happened to be around when the bridge was officially opened, you probably would have found its collapse in the movie ironic, amusing, and incredibly brilliant. This bridge, which was built specifically for the Millennium celebrations in London, happens to have the smallest depth-to-span ratio of all suspension bridges in the entire world (the difference in height of the cables is approximately only 1 metre high for every 40 metres the bridge spans). You can see how unique this is when you compare it to a more traditional suspension bridge like San Francisco’s Golden Gate (pictured below).

This is the Millenium Bridge in London with a 1:40 depth-to-span ratio.
The Millennium Bridge in London with a depth-to-span ratio of 1:40.
The Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco with a depth-to-span ratio of 1:10.
The Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco with a depth-to-span ratio of 1:10.

Needless to say, such a project was not cheap as the cables required to hold the Millennium bridge must sustain extremely high stresses to maintain its low depth-to-span ratio. The project, itself, cost £18.2 million, which was £2.2 million over-budget. When it was finally opened to the public, something truly unexpected happened. The bridge began to sway side-to-side to such an extent that it was blatantly obvious that something was terribly wrong.

The bridge was closed only 2 days after it opened and underwent a £5 million retrofit to make it safe. The bridge re-opened two years later.The whole ordeal resulted in the bridge donning the nickname of “Wobbly Bridge”.

After suffering the embarrassment of having to close the bridge right after it opened, and going £7.2 million over-budget, the prospect of the bridge collapsing after three death-eaters whiz past it would indeed be considered ironic and hilarious by the very nature of British humour. Unfortunately, I was the only in theatre who laughed….

4 thoughts on “It Was the Death Eaters!”

  1. aahahaha. aww dun feel too bad that you were the only one. i’m sure all other structural engineers as well as britons wud’ve laughed as well 😉

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