In July 1970, construction started on a new radio mast near Warsaw, Poland to transmit Polskie Radio signals. As a half-wavelength radiator, it’s height was chosen so the mast would operate as a half-wavelength antenna at its broadcasting frequency. That height was 646.38 metres (2,120.67 ft), making the Warsaw Radio Mast the tallest man-made structure in the world. It has since been surpassed by the Burj Khalifi, in part because the Warsaw Radio Mast collapsed in 1991.
Continue reading Warsaw Radio Mast: The Bigger They Are The Harder They Fall
This is Lake Peigneur. It looks serene and like any of the other lakes that dot the landscape of southern Louisiana. It was, however, the scene of a spectacular engineering snafu on November 20, 1980. That’s the day that, according to the best guess, a Texaco drilling rig miscalculated where they should be drilling and pierced the roof of the Diamond Chrystal Salt Company salt mine, causing a huge vortex and draining the lake into the salt mine. The Delcambre Canal, which normally flows from Lake Peigneur to Vermillion Bay began flowing backwards, filling Lake Peigneur with salt water and temporarily creating a 150 ft. waterfall, the largest in Louisiana.
Don’t take my word for it. Hit the jump for a video from Discovery Channel’s “Engineering Disasters” about this bizarre event. And remember to check and recheck your work. A small error can have major repercussions.
Continue reading How To Drain A Lake
In 1999, the Mars Climate Orbiter was supposed to enter orbit around the red planet. It would study the climate of Mars and act as a relay station for the Mars Polar Lander. Infamously, the Mars Climate Orbiter burned up when it incorrectly entered the atmosphere. An error, it was found later, due to the Lockheed engineers writing the software in metric units, but the JPL ground controllers using English units.
It seems that this mishap, millions of miles (or kilometers) from Earth is not the only mishap like it. Nope. The Canadians have their own Metric Mixup, but they call it the Gimli Glider.
Continue reading Gimli Glider: Darn the Metric System
You see them everywhere. On the backs of minivans and SUVs. Little stick figures boasting of the lack of birth control used by two people. While on vacation in California, I joked that they were justification for the SUV in a land that can be inhospitable to such vehicles. I’ve sworn I would never get these defacers of the rear window should I ever be saddled with an ankle biter of my own. Until I saw these.
Continue reading The Next Generation