Marvels are usually those things which make you stare in awe and wonder at the process that led to their existence. Man-made marvels such as bridges, tunnels, skyscrapers or railways are feats of engineering, created to make life easier. Here are 10 of the greatest modern examples of engineering genius and imagination that exist in the world today.
1. Millay Viaduct (Millau, France)
The world’s tallest cable-stayed road bridge has towers that are almost as tall as the Empire State Building and are 1,125 feet tall. The project was completed in December 2004 and was started to reduce the congested traffic between Paris and Barcelona during the summer vacation months. The Millau Viaduct was completed in an astonishing time of 3 years. But the most amazing part is the technique used to create the bridge due to its height of 900 feet. The roads were built on both side of the towers and then rolled out to the middle instead of the bridge being installed in sections.
2. The Venice Tide Barrier Project (Venice, Italy)
The world’s largest flood prevention project was the solution of 40 years of debating on how to prevent the city of Venice from sinking and keep it safe from flooding. The project was started in 2003 and consists of 78 rotating gates, each with an area of 6,500 square feet. The gates are large metal boxes that rest at the bottom of the sea and whenever the tide rises above 3 1/2 feet, the water is removed from the gates, causing them to float.
3. Three Gorges Dam (Sandouping, Hubei, China)
The world’s largest hydroelectric power station is also the world’s largest concrete structure. The dam is one and a half miles wide and creates electricity equivalent to 18 nuclear power plants. Besides power, the dam also provides increased shipping capacity and provides flood storage space. Construction began in 1994 and commercial operations began in 2008. Despite being a marvel, the dam has created a lot of controversy due to ecological problems such as landsliding and the displacement of over a million people and flooding of archaeological sites.
4. National Stadium (Beijing, China)
The world’s largest steel structure is also called the “Bird’s Nest”. The Olympic stadium looks more like a work of art than anything else and was built for the 2008 Olympics and accommodates 80,000 people. The stadium consists of 26 miles of unwrapped steel and is made of two independent structures that are set 50 feet apart. This wonder is also the world’s most energy-efficient and environmentally friendly stadiums in the world. The stadium was designed by the Swiss architects Jacques Herzog and Pierre de Meuron.
5. Palm Islands (Dubai)
This is the world’s largest man-made island and probably the largest project on this list. The islands are located off the coast of the UAE in the Persian Gulf near Dubai. Construction started in 2001, and making the islands involved mainly filling the seabed with sand. The project has added 320 miles of beaches to the shoreline of Dubai. The islands will include luxury hotels, high-end homes, theme parks and much more.
6. The Large Hadron Collider (Geneva, Switzerland)
The world’s largest and highest particle-energy accelerator has helped change modern physics. The accelerator is located underground in a 574-foot long tunnel with a circumference of 17 miles. The project was developed by CERN and completed in 2008. The main purpose of building the LHC was to answer many basic questions of science and the universe as well as develop technologies such as medical imaging and electronics among many other.
7. Channel Tunnel
The world’s longest stretch of underwater tunnel, is a 32-mile long underwater tunnel that England and France beneath the English Channel. Also called the Chunnel, it was started in 1988 and completed in 1994. The lowest part of the tunnel is 250 feet deep while 23.5 miles of the rail is submerged underwater. The trip across the tunnel takes only 20 minutes with trains reaching speed of over 100 miles per hour. An emergency tunnel was also built in case of a fire in the tunnel and saved 31 lives when a fire broke out in the tunnel, a year after completion.
8. Chandra X-Ray Observatory
The world’s most powerful x-ray telescope was launched by NASA on July 23, 1999 and allows scientists to obtain x-ray images from high-energy regions of the universe. The satellite was named after Nobel Prize winning physicist, Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar, who discovered the maximum mass for white dwarfs. The Chandra is the third great observatory to be launched by NASA out of four. With a length of 45 feet, the telescope is also the largest satellite that has been launched.
9. The Bailong Elevator (Zhangjiajie, China)
Built off the side of an enormous cliff in Zhangjiajie National Forest Park in China, The Bailong Elevator is the highest and heaviest outdoor elevator in the world. It is 1,070 feet high and consists of three double-story glass elevators.The elevator takes two minutes to ride from the base to the top, can carry 50 people in one trip with a total of 18,000 people daily. Construction of the elevator began in October 1999 and was finished in 2002 for public use.
10. The New Valley Project (Western Desert of Egypt)
The largest development project in Egypt is also the most ambitious. The New Valley Project consists of building a massive irrigation system to reclaim a half-a-million acres of desert. The project started in 2005 and will transform 500,000 acres of desert into agricultural land. The New Valley Project’s intent is to create a second Nile Valley and is scheduled for completion in 2017.