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1 Bob Dillon  Fri, Sep 14, 2012 10:37:40pm

Eiffel Tower

The Engineer posted on October 13, 2006 | Comments: 0

It has been called a technological masterpiece in building-construction history. Built in commemoration of the French Revolution, the Eiffel Tower is one of the world's premier tourist attractions. It has been compared to the Great Pyramid of Giza and St. Peter's Basilica in Rome. Nothing remotely like it has ever been constructed. The tower is located on the Left Bank of the Seine River, at the northwestern extreme of the Parc du Champ de Mars, a park in front of the École Militaire that used to be a military parade ground.

To truly appreciate this marvelous structure, let's discuss its history. The tower was built for the Paris World's Fair in 1889. When the French Government wasorganizing this event, a competition was held for designs for a suitable monument. Over 100 designs were submitted, and the World's Fair Committee selected the conception of a 984 foot (300 meter) open-lattice wrought iron tower. This design was the creation of Alexendre-Gustave Eiffel. He was a renown French civil engineer who specialized in metal construction. His previous works included an iron bridge at Bordeaux, the 540 foot (162 meter) Garabit viaduct, the moveable dome at the observatory in Nice, and the framework of the Statue of Liberty in New York Harbor. Eiffel startled the world with the construction of the tower. In contrast to such older monuments, Eiffel's tower was completed in a matter of months with a small labor force. Eiffel made use of advanced knowledge of the behavior of metal arch and metal truss form under loading, including wind forces. His results started a revolution in civil engineering and architectural design. With the completion of the tower, Eiffel earned the nickname, "magician of iron." The tower was almost torn down on several occasions and despite long and continuous protests, the tower vindicated itself aesthetically. With the advent of radio and television, the Eiffel Tower gained even greater importance as a transmission tower. For many years, it was the tallest man-made structure on earth.


2 researchok  Sat, Sep 15, 2012 1:03:07am

I'd hate getting stuck in an elevator at say. 15 KM

3 aagcobb  Sat, Sep 15, 2012 7:35:00am

I love Stephenson. Just bought another of his novels and I'm looking forward to getting lost in it.

4 abolitionist  Sat, Sep 15, 2012 7:56:30am

Could We Build a Stratosphere Scraper? At a minimum, any such structure would require most of its interior to be occupied by Helium, or by high vacuum, subdivided into many largish compartments. Otherwise gravity would have its way with any known materials, however strong.

5 Daniel Ballard  Sat, Sep 15, 2012 10:21:03am

Careful about how much we paste from articles, CJ sez 4 paragraphs maximum. I hate to see Charles get a complaint about one of our good pages. :-)

Great catch, I love high tech.

6 dragonath  Sat, Sep 15, 2012 11:39:36am

Yeah, okay. The building would have to be pressurized, constantly heated, and a visitor to the top would be constantly bombarded by cosmic radiation.

If an earthquake knocked it down I guess there'd be about 6 miles for it to fall on.

7 Winny Spencer  Sat, Sep 15, 2012 2:59:43pm

re: #3 aagcobb

I love Stephenson. Just bought another of his novels and I'm looking forward to getting lost in it.

Me too!

8 lostlakehiker  Sun, Sep 16, 2012 1:34:26pm

The known reserves of helium do not suffice for a 12 km tall, 2km square base "balloon". And it would leak. You'd constantly be replenishing it.

We could fill it with hydrogen, I suppose. And pray there's never a stray spark.

The task of building a mountain of rock 12 km tall, 12 km square base---utterly beyond our reach. We could use all our nukes blasting other mountains to rubble, and not get enough rubble to fill the new one. Our earth moving machines could not move enough fast enough to keep up with the sag as rock already piled up flowed like a glacier under gravity.

No known material that we can make in quantity, and certainly not steel, can carry the load unless the structure starts very wide and thins down dramatically as it rises. And we don't have any way to make enough steel to do it like that.

The whole thing is a pipe dream.

Oh, wait. Suppose we shape the mountain in space, starting with one of the larger asteroids, and lower it gently from a sky crane? Or mount really big rockets on its base to slow its fall?


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