Bigger, faster, stronger. Humankind seems to have this need etched into our DNA. When considering human history, one can see this trend at work. Whether it’s one nation trying to win out over another, a corporation trying to beat its rival, or even just because somebody said, “It can’t be done”, we are in a perpetual race against each other and ourselves.
To the Highest Loftiest Heights
Right now the world’s tallest building is the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, UAE. It stands at 2,717 feet (828 meters) high. That’s more than a half a mile (>0.8 km) straight up. Consider the feats of engineering, in their respective points in history, of the Leaning Tower of Pisa at 183 feet (~56 meters) or the Empire State Building which measures (from base to antenna) 1,454 feet (~443 meters), and the progression along the timeline becomes clear.
To the Deepest Depths
People like to move – some more than others. Whatever the reason be, the desire to get from point A to point B and (maybe) back again exists.
One day it was decided to build a link between England (point A) and France (point B). However, the English Channel stood between the two countries. And so the idea of the “Chunnel” was born. A marvel of engineering that is 31.4 miles (50 km) in length and ranges between 164 to 246 feet (50 to 75 meters) below the seabed of the Channel.
Sometimes water is not the problem but tons and tons of rock and earth. In order to decrease travel time between places like Zurich and Milan, it was decided that a more direct route between Sedrun, Switzerland (point A) and Faido, Switzerland (point B) was needed. The problem was the Swiss Alps were between the two points. Now we have the Gotthard Base Tunnel. Bored through almost 35.5 miles (~57 km) of mountain and under almost 1.5 miles (2,300 meters) of rock and dirt, it is the longest and deepest tunnel in the world. Just another example of the lengths and depths mankind will go for convenience’s sake and to save a bit of precious time.
It’s All in the Details
When I think of these massive projects, some of the first things that come to mind are how much those skyscrapers are going to sway in the wind and how the engineers can dampen the effect. Or, maybe, how to engineer the structure of the tunnels to withstand the pressure overhead?
Others may consider the machines that are needed to build these monsters. There are the cranes that will have to get the I-beams to the 100th floor of that new building. Then there are the massive boring machines that will drill an enormous hole through a mountain.
Last, but certainly not least, there are the million little details that come into play in any major project, and technology is at work even here. Obviously, safety is very important. Certain workers may require prescription safety glasses to prevent job-related eye injuries. These allow for better clarity than the previous method of wearing safety glasses over regular glasses.
Since safety is always a concern, there is the need to have emergency air supplies in case of a cave in or other disaster while building those tunnels. One also has to consider the minutia like the tolerances of the bolts to be used or the power of the handheld tools the workers will use.
The finished product will be a marvel of the modern world. Getting there will require years of planning all the details, from the large to the small.
Article Submitted By Community Writer