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Catherine Gorle: How cityscapes catch the wind

A civil and environmental engineer describes how engineering is designing better built environments that shape rather than bend to the will of the wind.

A businessman struggles in strong winds on the sidewalk of a city street in Tokyo

Harness the wind | Reuters Pictures/Issei Kato

Humankind has long harnessed the wind to its advantage.

From ancient mariners to millers grinding grist, the wind has been an ally for millennia, but only now do engineers have at their disposal advanced computer simulations to better understand the details of wind flow and to optimize designs.

Catherine Gorle is one such engineer who has made it her career to design better built environments able to improve walkability, temper extreme winds, shuffle air pollution far away and dissipate heat islands arising from so much sun-beaten concrete in our cities.

Once, that work had to take place in wind tunnels, but now transpires through advanced computer simulations that both speed her work and add critical detail to her understanding of the close interrelationship between wind and human society. Join us as Catherine Gorle tells host bioengineer Russ Altman all about the future of wind on this episode Stanford Engineering’s The Future of Everything podcast. Listen and subscribe here.