The Mississippi River—it’s a big deal, OK?

The combined ports of South Louisiana and New Orleans move more cargo, ton for ton, than any other US port.

So figuring out the Mississippi’s hydrodynamics—the way its water, silt, and sand ebb and flow—matters.

Matters so much, in fact, that Louisiana has dropped $18 million on a 10,800-square-foot model of Big Muddy’s sinuous meanders.

It’s made of 216 panels of high-density foam, carved to match mapping data down to a quarter-millimeter tolerance.

Sure, the Center for River Studies could have just simulated all this in a supercomputer, built from spreadsheets and algebra.

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