Innovative Thinking – Leaning Tower Of Pisa – Blog 074

Innovation – Leaning Tower Of Pisa

Here’s an innovative solution that is really out of the box.  I tried to introduce it to the Italian government, but bogged down in bureaucracy and indifference then finally gave up.  I still am sure it will work.


The learning Tower of Pisa is a spectacular monument and it really is leaning.  A few years ago I got to see it in person and take the photograph below.

The tower is currently at the maximum angle it can lean.  If it moves any further, it will topple.  The problem is the soil it was constructed on.  At one time that plaza around and beneath the tower was a swamp.  Over many years, the locals dumped materials into the swamp and eventually created usable land.  Unfortunately for the tower, the land wasn’t structurally sound.

Once the tower was complete, its weight compacted the wet soil below causing the right side (as seen in this photo), the compress, while the left side remained in place.

The problem is wet, un-compacted, structurally unsound soil.


In the 1980’s, I worked for the United States Department of Energy developing a world’s first artificial intelligence computer system for the Hanford Nuclear facility.  Two of the engineers I asked to join my team were Debbie & Ken Iwatate, who recently invented the process of In-Situ Vitrification.

In-Situ Vitrification was developed to safely dispose of nuclear waste.  The process is pretty cool!  You dig a huge pit in the ground, say 40’ by 40’.  Dump the waste; nuclear, medical, bio, industrial, into the pit.  Cover it with sand.  Place several, very large copper rods (the size of telephone poles), at each corner, and zap it with thousands of volts of electricity until the sand melts.

When it cools, it turns into a solid brick of glass.  Even though it contains nuclear waste, you can safely stack them anywhere.  Cool huh?

So, what if you took this process and glassified the soil beneath the Tower of Pisa?  The soil would become hard as glass when it cools.  Jack up the low side of the Tower and pump in some concrete.  When the concrete cures, let down the jacks.

I know this innovation wouldn’t be at the top of one’s mind to most folks, but the process is.  Looking for a solution in a completely different place.  No one would think a solution for fixing the Leaning Tower of Pisa could be found on the Hanford Nuclear Reservation.

It’s about random association again and you can do it!

P.S.:  I’d sure like to try this someday!  :o)

Lon Safko
Serial Innovator, Keynote Speaker, Trainer, Innovative Thinking

Tags: innovative thinking, creative, creative thinking, Innovation, critical thinking definition, innovation definition, critical thinking skills, creative process

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