SCIENCE

Here’s How Taiwan’s Tapei 101 Tower Survives Typhoons

Taiwan's Tapei 101 is among the tallest man-made structures in the world. Here's how ingenious engineering saved the tower during last week's typhoon.

Aug 11, 2015 at 1:17 PM ET

When Typhoon Soudelor raged off the coast of Taiwan early Saturday morning, widespread destruction was inevitable. But a single tower, one of the tallest in the world, escaped the storm unscathed. Tapei 101 survived.

The key to the 1,667-foot tower’s resilience is an 18-foot, 728-ton globe suspended between the 87th and 92nd floors. The globe functions as a tuned mass damper, which is sort of an enormous pendulum that counteracts the swaying motion of a building by shifting in the opposite direction. (In case that’s not clear, here’s a fun gif).

Most skyscrapers have dampers of some kind, but seldom do we get to see one in action. Here’s a video of Tapei 101 staring into the face of the storm, putting that mass damper to use: