The engineering secrets behind the UK’s newest aircraft carrier, the Shanghai Tower and Kansai International Airport are all set to be explored in a new documentary series coming to Yesterday later this month.
First announced in February, Impossible Engineering is a brand-new series dedicated to exploring and celebrating the engineering behind “mega structures”.
The six-part series starts Tuesday 26th May at 9pm.
1. Aircraft Carrier
The HMS Queen Elizabeth is the largest aircraft carrier in the history of the British Royal Navy. With a surface area bigger than two football pitches, and the most advanced short take-off strip and vertical landing in aircraft history, building this ship would have been impossible without the great engineering innovators of the past.
In this episode experts explain some of the historic engineering principles from around the world, including the first British shipboard aircraft take-offs in 1912 and the revolutionary HMS Argus. Both of these enabled engineers in the 21st century to create the ground-breaking Queen Elizabeth.
2. Rion-Antirion Bridge
The three kilometres long Rion-Antirion Bridge is awe-inspiring, not only due to its record-breaking dimensions, but also due to its location in one of Europe’s most active seismic zones where winds reach up to 70mph. This episode gives an insight into the engineers who had to conquer the problems of deep water, high winds, earthquake risks and constant land mass movement to engineer the colossal bridge.
Engineering experts travel around the world to understand how iconic creations such as the Salginotobel Bridge in Switzerland and World War II sea forts paved the way for the Bridge.
3. The Shanghai Tower
Due to Shanghai being so densely populated the only place to build is up. Soaring 632 metres into the sky, the Shanghai Tower is the second tallest building in the world. Constructed within one of the most seismically active corners of the globe, it is built to withstand damaging winds of typhoon proportions.
Analysing revolutionary designs of the past and engineers such as Jack E. Carmak and Dankmar Adler, this episode demonstrates how trail-blazers allowed ambitious engineers to build an 850,000 tonne skyscraper in a city that is slowly sinking into the soft soil below.
4. Kansai Airport
The construction of Kansai International Airport in Osaka Bay, Japan, on the largest man-made island in the world, was one of the most ambitious engineering projects of modern times. Pioneering innovators from the past such as Pierre Danel, who developed a system against the pounding sea, and nineteenth century mechanic Richard Dudgeon made it possible.
In this episode the development of airports including Berlin’s Tempelhof Airport and London’s Croydon Airport are explored to see how engineers attempted this feat of impossible engineering.
5. Maglev Train
This episode explores the history of locomotives. Experts analyse the work of engineers including Sir Nigel Gresley who engineered the world’s fastest steam train in 1938 and Eric Laithwaite, whose linear motor made frictionless travel a real possibility.
These audacious innovators of the past influenced the engineering of The Shanghai Maglev, the fastest passenger train in operation on the planet. Held in place by a series of electromagnets, it levitates on an air gap of just ten millimetres and is able to reach a phenomenal top speed of 431 kilometres per hour.
Built to cut through a busy metropolis in one of the world’s most active seismic zones, the Shanghai Maglev was an ambitious project that broke engineering boundaries.
The Airbus A380 is the largest passenger plane ever built and can carry over 850 people non-stop nearly half way around the world. With the largest wingspan of any commercial aircraft, and four specially developed mighty turbo jet engines, the A380 weighs a colossal 560 tonnes.
However getting a plane this size off the ground would not have been possible without the nifty innovators of the past: Sir George Cayley, whose ground-breaking work in aerodynamics launched the world’s first glider in the 19th century and Frank Whittle, whose jet engine changed the aviation industry forever.
Key developments in aerospace engineering from Richard Whitcombe’s energy-efficient wing-tip designs, to NASA engineers’ cutting edge control system, Fly by Wire, helped bring the A380 to fruition.