If you think it's impossible to stand on something in tension

It's not:

Is she standing on the wire, or hanging from it?

I say she's standing, but if you really honestly believe she's hanging from the wire, I don't want to know about it, because there's no point discussing something with someone with such an opposing view. It won't do me any good, it won't do you any good.

More rigorously, you need to read the semantics bit on the main page:


In asking whether the hub hangs or stands on the spokes, I really mean to question where the structurally active spokes are. That is, if the spokes which resist load are below the hub, I'd describe the hub as standing on the lower spokes. If the spokes that resist load are above the hub, then I'd say the hub was hanging. That is:

Some people don't like these definitions. They feel that it can only be described as standing if compressive stress is involved. However, the most reliable dictionary definition I can find ( The New Shorter Oxford English Dictionary, half a million definitions in two volumes each 1900 or so pages) makes no such restriction - the verb is the third entry for stand, and meaning 12 (the first within the second major grammatical division) is the relevant one - "Of a thing: be in an upright position with the lower part resting on or fixed in the ground or some other support". This is compatible with the definitions above - if the hub has its lower part supported by the spokes below it, from which the supporting action is predominately received, the definition fits. None of the meanings in the dictionary specify that compressive stress be involved. (Incidently, for the Americans, Merriam-Webster is the same - stand means "to rest or remain upright on a base or lower end", with no requirement for compressive stress.)


By the way - the wire she is standing on is 1km long, stretching across the Han River in Seoul, S Korea, and was designed by me. Just to prove you don't need to be a flamboyant performer to stand on something in tension, here's me standing on a purely tensile cable, though it's a slightly larger one:



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