Outrageous Mechanical Marvels: 9 Mammoth Gadgets
This is actually a solar furnace capable of reaching temperatures as high as 5,430 degrees Fahrenheit. Located in Font-Romeu-Odeillo-Via (a commune in the south of France), the furnace acts as a giant magnifying glass. The hillside opposite of the structure consists of hundreds of flat mirrors, which reflect a beam of sunlight onto the curved mirror to concentrate light onto a focal point. Solar furnaces like this one are used for melting steel, generating electricity, and even converting CO2 into fuel. They would be serious, serious overkill for burning helpless little ants.
Large Hadron Collider
How could we leave this one out? The poorly named Large Hadron Collider, which lies in a 17-mile tunnel underneath the border of France and Switzerland, is the largest and most powerful particle accelerator in the world. Scientists dream that the accelerator, once its fully online, will unlock the deepest secrets of the universe. How? Slamming subatomic particles together at incredible speeds causes them to shatter, revealing insights into the subtle details of quantum physics. The accelerator is so powerful, in fact, that some doomsayers think its capable of producing a black hole that could destroy the planet
Currently the largest wind turbine in the world, theEnercon E-126stands at 126 meters high (413 feet). It features new technologies to improve its efficiency converting the movement of the air into electrical energy. The result? Seven megawatts of energy enough to power 5,000 European homes. The first turbines of the E-126 were installed in Emden, Germany.
Towering 310 feet high and weighing 31.3 million pounds, theBagger 293 holds a Guiness World Recordas the largest and heaviest land vehicle in the world. The machine, shown above, looks and sounds intimidating, but its operation is actually quite simple: 18 gigantic buckets are attached to a giant wheel; when the wheel rotates, the buckets scoop up earth and dump it onto a conveyor belt. Each bucket is capable of holding 1,452 gallons of earth about the equivalent of 80 bathtubs. The Bagger 293 now resides in brown-coal mine in Hambach, Germany, awaiting the day when it will again be free to roam the Earth.
Airplanes not only fly us around the globe for our getaways; they double as giant fire extinguishers. In August, theSupertanker a Boeing 747 modified into an aerial firefighter dumped 20,000 gallons of retardant over Los Angeles to put out 105,000 acres of blazing land. The Supertanker carries a special pressurized delivery system to fire retardant with considerable accuracy; the modded aircraft cost $50 million to develop.
Tunnel Boring Machine
Ever wonder how a tunnel is born? Tunnel-boring machines, like the monster above. At the front is a circular, rotating cutting wheel used to bore through hard rock, soil and sand. Behind the cutting wheel is a chamber where the excavated soil is collected. The machine above is the S-210 boring machine used to excavate the eastern tube of the Gotthard Base tunnel under construction in Switzerland. It measures 29 feet in diameter and 1,312 feet long.
Spacecraft make their way to the Launch Pad with some help from thecrawler-transporter, a 2,400-ton tracked vehiclecurrent being used to transport NASAs space shuttles. Spanning 131-feet-by-114 feet, the crawler-transporter has 16 traction motors, powered by four 1,341-horsepower generators and driven by two 2,750-horsepower diesel engines. Yowza. The crawler-transporter burns 150 gallons of diesel oil per mile.
The tallest boat lift in the world, the Strpy-Thieu boat lift stands at an incredible 384 feet high, with a height difference of 240 feet between the upstream and downstream reaches. And yes, it can lift ships from the lower point to the upper one. Located at the Canal du Centre in Belgium, the boat lift is capable of accommodating vessels weighing up to 1,350 tons. Its also tall enough to practice high diving
Giant Diesel Engine
The behemoth above is an 80,000 horsepowerdiesel engine designed to power large cargo ships. Dubbed the Wartsila-Sulzer RTA96-C, this turbocharged, two-stroke engine has 10 cylinders, each measuring about 3 feet in diameter and producing about 8,000 horsepower each. Altogether, the engine weighs approximately 1,600 tons and consumes more than 1,000 gallons of fuel oil per hour. And you thought you had to pay through the nose at the pump.