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What is the Vantasner Danger Meridian?

On it's surface the Vantasner Danger Meridian is but a myth, first revealed in second season of Patriot. The show's creators even went so far as to plant a backstory in the guise of an academic paper attributed to fictional scholar Bram Vantasner. The meridian is presented as a mathematical construct for assessing risk, the boundary beyond which risk increases exponentially.

I choose to interpret the Vantasner meridian as a fabulous metaphor for the art of engineering. Is a pint glass containing 1/2 pint of beer half-empty, or half-full? I believe it was an engineer who first articulated that the glass was poorly designed, sub-optimal in the extreme. We often strive for the elusive fully-stessed member, an object so elegantly designed that at failure it essentially implodes. There is no weak link in the chain, and conversely no material wasted on the other links. ALL links fail simultaneously. Every iota of material is utilized to the fullest.

Optimization is the iterative process by which we reinforce the weak points and remove material from elsewhere. Whether we apply the cut and try method, FEA/CFD analysis, or automate the whole shebang with generative design alorithms our intent is the same. Trim the fat and reinforce the vulnerabilities.

The singularity between too much and not enough, is the Vantasner Danger Meridian. This ethos is epitomized in the design philosophy developed by legendary race car designer Colin Chapman at Lotus. With the tools available in his day, weak links were far easier to identify than fat. But Chapman possessed a keener awareness than most of us that if his car finished the race intact, there was fat to be trimmed.

I suspect that Colin Chapman might have appreciated Patriot, and the Vantasner Danger Meridian in particular.

And as a former pipeliner I can tell you that the made-up engineering lingo on that show is jaw-droppingly spectacular. The words aren't real, but they should be!

In pursuit of optimal designs, engineers have been surfing the Vantasner Danger Meridian for centuries without even knowing that it was a thing. In point of fact it isn't a thing, but it should be. May all your designs converge on optimal solutions. Happy surfing!

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