Holding up

12:57pm, March 19, 2008

Michelangelo's David is just as buff as he was 500 years ago, when he was sculpted from marble. But the statue shows stress from holding up its weight for so long. On March 18 in Honolulu, researchers at the International Conference on Computational and Experimental Engineering and Sciences presented a new study of David's frame.

Vadim Shapiro of the University of Wisconsin–Madison and Igor Tsukanov of Florida International University in Miami used new software to analyze a 3-D scan of David and confirmed that stress from gravity caused the cracks in his legs. The software requires less initial input from experts than earlier software, Shapiro says. Orthopedic surgeons could use the software to predict, say, the stress that a hip prosthesis imparts on a patient's unique anatomy.

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