5 modern day engineering feats you’d have thought were April Fools
As it is April Fools, a day of making up wildly fictitious claims, we thought we’d take a look at some standout engineering feats from recent times that, when they were being conceived, you’d be excused for thinking were April Fools.
At its best engineering pushes boundaries and discovers new ways of doing things better. It’s what we at Surface Technology aim to do for our customers on a daily basis from a surface engineering perspective and it’s what our customers aim to do with the products they design, build and assemble.
Here’s five examples where engineers pushed the boundaries and turned the seemingly outlandish into spectacular working infrastructure and technology:
- Millau Viaduct: The world’s tallest cable-stayed road bridge, the Millau Viaduct, traverses the valley of the River Tarn near Millau in southern France. Rising above the valley 890 feet high and spanning 1.5 miles, the bridge looks more like a road in the sky than one bound by the laws of gravity. Developed by French engineer Michel Virlogeux and British designer Norman Foster, the bridge was completed in December 2004.
- The Large Hadron Collider (LHC): 17 miles in circumference and lying deep underground near Geneva, Switzerland, the LHC is the largest single machine built to date and by far the most powerful particle accelerator. The LHC is at the heart of groundbreaking research using high-speed particle collisions to understand questions of science and the universe as well as further develop new technologies. A 15 year project involving 10,000 scientists from circa 40 countries and 9bn euros of investment.
- Concorde: A supersonic passenger jet capable of flying twice the speed of sound, Concorde made its inaugural flight in 1969 and remained operating as a commercial jet until 2003. Beaten to the record of the world’s first supsersonic jet by the Tupolev Tu-144, Concorde nonetheless holds countless records and was the first to make commercial flights. On 7th February 1996 British Airway’s Concorde completed the fastest transatlantic commercial flight from New York JFK to London Heathrow in 2 hours 52 minutes – some 5 hours faster than today’s average commercial flight.
- Dutch Delta Works: Following a major flood in 1953 which killed around 1,800 people, authorities in the Netherlands prioritised the building of a robust sea defence to avert such a disaster in the future. The answer was the Dutch Delta Works, a huge engineering project which involved blocking certain estuaries leading to Antwerp and Rotterdam, subsequently changing the whole coastline. In the Odense area, the sea defence is designed for a one-in-10,000 year surge; in England, the only comparable construction, the Thames Barrier, is designed for a one-in-1,000-year surge.
- Channel Tunnel: One of the largest engineering projects ever undertaken in the UK, the concept of constructing a 31.4 mile tunnel under the English Channel from Folkestone to Coquelles, Pas-de-Calais was an ambitious one. Taking five years to build and involving the excavation of 8.75m cubic metres of material: most of which has been used to create 90 acres of man-made land mass, known as Samphire Hoe. To date more than four times the population of the UK has crossed through the channel tunnel using Eurotunnel Le Shuttle alone.