“How can we improve structures to account for thermal expansion?”
There is a problem when one decides to design bridges and roads, and it comes from one very simple facet of the physical universe, temperature. The laws of physics dictate that when an object changes temperature, it’s dimensions will change accordingly. So when we need to build a structure such as a bridge or a road with exact configurations, we will run into a major issue. So how can we solve the problem of thermal expansion and it’s related issues such as internal buckling? Well, how about we design the structure so that it allows for some volumetric change? This idea is called an expansion joint. Expansion joints are when small gaps are placed in a structure, repeating for a set distance, so that associated thermal expansion will not cause internal strife. Expansion joints are used in a myriad of different structures, ranging from railroads to bridges.