Marvels are innovative structures and things that make one gaze in awe. In today’s world, modern engineering has done amazing deeds when it comes to creating some of the world’s rarest marvels. Engineering has created structures that have the potential to affect Earth’s movements. There are also structures that are environmentally sustainable. Here, we look at few such mind-boggling modern engineering feats from across the world.
1. The Three Gorges Dam is so big that it has the capacity to slow the rotation of the earth by strategically shifting significant masses of water. It is one-and-a-half miles wide, over 600-feet wide, and almost 400 miles long. This innovative engineering feat creates electricity equal to 18 nuclear power plants.
The Three Gorges Dam is one of the most amazing feats that engineering has achieved in modern times. The dam is 181 m (594 ft) in height and 2,335 m (7,661 ft) in length, with a crest that’s 40 m (131 ft) wide and a base that’s 115 m (377 ft) wide. It has the capacity to shift 16,000 cubic meters (4,100,000 cubic feet) of water! The dam produces over 20,000 megawatts of hydroelectricity. This number is 20 times more than that of Hoover Dam and is equal to the electricity produced by 18 nuclear power plants. In its full capacity, the Three Gorges Dam would be enough to fulfill 10% of China’s power requirements.
The dam is so gigantic that it has the ability to affect the Earth’s rotation itself. Scientists in NASA calculated that the shifting of the large mass of water by the dam can eventually increase the length of a day by 0.06 microseconds. This would also make the Earth rounder around the middle and flatter on the poles.
Despite all the advantages of the dam, it has not been excluded from controversies. There are concerns regarding the environmental impacts by the dam like landslides and earthquakes, along with the forced relocation of about 1.3 million people. Environmentalists are also concerned that the dam would lead to more pollution and degradation of water quality along with affecting aquatic lives. (1, 2)
2. Capital Gate is a 35-story skyscraper that leans a full 18 degrees – four times more than that of the Leaning Tower of Pisa. Engineers had to drill 490 piles almost 30 meters into the ground to make it the farthest-leaning building.
The Capital Gate Tower is the most-inclined building in the world. It’s four times more inclined than the famous Leaning Tower of Pisa and has 35 floors with a height of 160 meters. And the best part is that this building is not just for show. There are offices, retail spaces, and fully-functioning commercial spaces inside the building! The tower also has the Hyatt Capital Gate hotel and a helipad.
Located in Abu Dhabi, UAE, the construction of the building was completed in 2011 on a $231-million budget. The construction procedure utilized for the building is quite impressive and a glorious engineering feat. The building lies above a two-meter-high raft made of concrete. The raft is, in turn, resting upon 490 piles which have been drilled 30 meters underground to withstand the strongest winds, seismic disturbances, and gravitational forces created due to the inclination. The basement for the tower has been constructed with more than 6,000 cubic meters of concrete. The construction of the tower involves the use of 21,500 tons of steel. It has around 8,500 structural steel beams to support the inclination.
3. The Channel Tunnel is an underwater rail tunnel that links France and England and has 38 km of its tracks underwater. At its lowest point, the tunnel is about 75 meters deep below the surface of the water. Trains travel at 100 miles per hour inside the underwater tunnel.
The Channel Tunnel is the longest underwater train tunnel in the whole world. The entire tunnel is 50 km in length with 38 km of the tunnel lying underwater. The entire system consists of three such tunnels. The tunnels link the towns of Folkestone and Coquelles, which are located in England and France respectively.
All the three tunnels are bored at an average of 40 meters below the sea bed. Trains run on the two, monodirectional tunnels which are connected in between by cross-passages that lead to a service tunnel, a tunnel for maintenance purposes, and an emergency-rescue tunnel. The tunnels have a specially designed vehicle for maintenance operations and for rescue in case of incidents. At its lowest point, the tunnel reaches 75 meters below the sea bed and 115 meters below sea level.
Plans for building the tunnel goes as far back as 1802, but the British government was unwilling to compromise national security. The project became successful in 1988 after being organized by Eurotunnel. Construction was completed in 1994. The final cost amounted to £9 billion ($21 billion), which was way over the proposed budget of £5.5 billion ($13 billion) in 1985. (1, 2)
4. Laerdal Tunnel is a road tunnel that is built within the Hornsnipa and Jeronnosi mountains. The tunnel runs through solid gneiss rock for 15 miles. The design incorporated inputs from psychologists to make the 20-minute drive through the mountain stimulating.
In 1992, the Norwegian government decided to construct a road tunnel that would stretch for 24.5 km making it the longest road tunnel in the world. The officials decided that in order to reduce travel time, they would just create a road that goes through the mountains instead of around them. So, we got the Laerdal Tunnel that was constructed by removing 2,500,000 cubic meters of rocks.
The design team took genuine efforts to make the tunnel as less straining as possible for the drivers. A team of psychologists was brought in to decide the design for the tunnel. The tunnel is divided into four different sections that are separated by three caves. So, while driving through, people can take either section and enjoy the different structures of the cave. This works as a way to break the monotonous routine of driving through on a straight road. Plus, drivers can also stop and rest for a bit inside the caves. The lighting is also different in the caves and gives the impression of sunrise. The entire drive through the tunnel takes 20 minutes.
5. The Falkirk Wheel in Scotland is a unique, 115-foot-tall boat-lifting and rotating bridge, built with more than 1,200 tons of steel, powered by 10 hydraulic motors, and the ability to lift eight boats at a time. The wheel has the ability to lift a weight equivalent to that of 100 African elephants.
The Falkirk Wheel in Scotland looks like something straight out of an adventure park. In layman terms, the wheel is a huge rotating bridge that lifts up boats from one canal, rotates them, and puts the boat on another canal that is at a height of 35 meters above the first canal. The canals in question here are the Forth, Clyde, and the Union Canal. Apparently, they were connected in the 1930s with the help of locks, devices that raise and lower boats. But somehow, the system corroded over time and since then, this is the first time that the canals have been connected. The tunnel was opened for operation in 2002.
The tunnel has a soaring height of 35 meters and is 27 meters in length. It weighs 1,800 tons in total, with the wheel alone being made of 1,200 tons of steel. The Falkirk Wheel lifts the boats 24 meters. The Union Canal is another 11 meters higher than that. So, after leaving the wheel, the boats are required to pass through a system of locks before finally getting to the Union Canal. (1, 2)