Throughout the ages, mankind has created amazing feats of engineering, using science and mathematics to create the seemingly impossible. Here are a few of the most amazing feats of human engineering.
The Great Pyramids
Scholars have wondered exactly how these pyramids were built for centuries and while most of the details can be theorized, we have no true way to know for sure. What we do know is that it was probably difficult and hard work in the desert heat and it is thought that as many as 30,000 workers were involved in building Giza alone.
The Panama Canal
Work on this marvel began in 1881 and the canal was finally finished in 1914. The purpose of the canal was to save ships from having to sail around South America. The amount of digging that had to be done to complete this project is staggering; all of Manhattan could have been buried twelve feet deep by the time it was finished. Workers on the canal suffered many setbacks, including nearly 25,000 deaths from disease. Today, there are about 13,000 ships that make use of the canal annually.
The Great Wall of China
Perhaps the biggest wall ever built, the Great Wall of China is actually several walls that stretch over 4,000 miles across the country. Over a period of about two millennium, sections of the Great Wall have been torn down, rebuilt, built up, repaired and replaced. While it is said that it is visible from space, this is actually a matter of some debate; what is sure is that it’s not easily visible from space at any rate.
The Chunnel, Channel Tunnel or le Tunnel sous la Manche is perhaps the youngest engineering marvel listed here. The Chunnel connects England and France, crossing under the English Channel. Discussions for such a tunnel have been recorded as early as 1802, but between political and engineering considerations work didn’t begin on the Chunnel until 1988. Today, thousands travel back and forth between France and England via this 31-mile long tunnel that sits 250 feet beneath the waves. It holds the title for the longest underwater tunnel in the world and the second longest tunnel in the world. The trains that run through the tunnel move so fast that special valves must be opened to release built up pressure within the tunnel.
Standing at over sixty stories, this engineering marvel was built during the Great Depression at a cost of $49 million. This dam required overcoming several engineering conundrums, including finding a way to cool the concrete quickly enough. The dam had to be built in sections and cooled with water, else it might have taken 125 years for all of the concrete to cool! Designed with an eye towards the art-deco movement, any visit to Las Vegas should include a quick jaunt over to the Hoover Dam. Today, the dam provides power for Nevada, California and Arizona.
Gary Feltman is a structural engineer and guest author at Best Online Engineering Degree, a site with guides to top-rated engineering degree programs online.