Jon Wilkman on the failure of the St. Francis Dam and the making of modern Los Angeles.

Floodpath Failing infrastructure is a hot topic these days; this catastrophic failure from 1928 has largely been forgotten. Read More


The St. Francis Dam Failure

J. David Rogers on the deadliest civil engineering disaster of the twentieth century.

The St. Francis Dam Failure Lessons learned from the St. Francis Dam failure—and its impact on the civil engineering profession at-large. Read More


The Great Lisbon Earthquake, Fire

The Great Lisbon Earthquake, Fire

Mark Molesky, author of “This Gulf of Fire,” on the three-act disaster that destroyed Lisbon in 1755.

On All Saints’ Day in 1755, the capital of Portugal was devastated by a combination earthquake-tsunami-firestorm. “People thought it was Judgment Day and that the world was coming to an end,” says Molesky. Read More

438 Days

438 Days

Salvador Alvarenga would not have survived for fourteen months in an open, twenty-five-foot boat if not for the voluminous amounts of trash in the Pacific Ocean.

Adrift for 438 days, Salvador Alvarenga’s resilience, ingenuity, and determination allowed him to stay alive, with a huge assist from ordinary household garbage. Read More

This Day in Failure

May 25th

2008: A cargo plane scheduled to fly to Bahrain crashes and breaks in two after trying to abort a takeoff at Brussels airport in Belgium. The Boeing 747-200, full of fuel, comes to rest just five and a half yards from a rail line and 550 yards from houses on the edge of the town of Zaventem.

2008: In the midst of celebrating their Canadian Hockey League...

More from May 25

Another day in Failure.  

Failure Analysis

Kalan Reed became Mr. Irrelevant 2016 when he was selected 253rd overall in the NFL draft, making the leap from Southern Miss to the Tennessee Titans. More

Your choice for next U.S. President?

The probability of success is difficult to estimate; but if we never search, the probability of success is zero.

- Giuseppe Cocconi and Philip Morrison in “Searching for Interstellar Communications” (1959)