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Bracing the walls of D.C.

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By John Pawlak

There was a homeowner who wanted to rid his house of roaches.  A friend suggested using an aerosol spray called a “roach bomb.” You put the can in a room and turn it on (activating a continuous spray), exit the room, and let the fumes seek out and bomb the little critters.  The homeowner thought it over ... if one bomb per room is good, several bombs per room is better!  He bought a couple cases of roach bombs, set off several aerosols in each room, and ran out of the house.

Slowly, the house filled up with the mist ... the flammable mist ... the flammable mist that eventually found the stove’s pilot light.  Yeah, the house exploded.  But it has to make you wonder ... Did it kill the roaches?

Okay, I didn’t really want to discuss blowing up houses.  Quite the converse, I wanted to talk about what it takes to hold one together.

Most people think that the walls of a house support the ceiling. That’s true of course, but equally true is the fact that the ceiling supports the walls. If not for the ceiling providing stability, the walls would come crashing down.  So here’s the question ... just how high can you build a wall? Is there a theoretical limit to how high the ceiling can be?