Engineering's Modern Wonders
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It was more than a century ago that Harilaos Trikoupis, then Prime Minister of Greece, proposed building a bridge across the Gulf of Corinth. But deep waters, strong winds, and high chance of earthquakes made it all but impossible. One hundred years later, engineers succeeded in doing the impossible, completing the Rion-Antirion Bridge in 2004, and breaking several world records along the way. In recognition of the feat, the American Society of Civil Engineers recognized the bridge with its annual Outstanding Civil Engineering Achievement award.
The Rion-Antirion Bridge is but one example of an engineering project that could never before have been built. New design, engineering, and construction technologies are allowing civil engineers to realize infrastructure projects of unprecedented scale and complexity. Sophisticated software programs and cheap processing power let builders push materials and structures to their dramatic limits -- but no farther. Robotics and global positioning satellite systems are changing the way construction happens.
And perhaps, too, ambitions have become grander. Mose, the Venetian plan for floating barriers that would hold back the Adriatic's rising tides, has been tried only once before -- by Moses when he parted the Red Sea.
The following 10 projects range from the world's tallest bridge to the longest undersea pipeline, but all represent the wonders of 21st century engineering.