What better way to mark the start of a new decade than the official
opening of the world's tallest building in Dubai. Originally
slated to be the Burj Dubai, but changed at the last minute to be the
the builders were struggling to get their hands on the last few door
handles and light fittings as their credit rating at 'Builders
R Us' had gone a bit "Madoff", but luckily a neighbouring
Sheik rode out of the desert with a spare $25 Billion to finish the
Understandably, for $25 Bill, he wanted his name over the front door
and didn't really care that all the road
signs said Burj Dubai - obviously not his problem.
With 330,000 cubic metres of concrete, 39,000 metric tonnes of reinforced
steel, 103,000 square metres of glass and 15,500 square metres of embossed
stainless steel and standing twice the height of the Empire State building,
it's a pretty big material
It is also brimming with the latest building tech and you may logically
anticipate that it also has the latest in anti-dirt nanotech coatings
to keep those 103,000 square metre of glass clean - er, well,
windows on the "Big BK" involves a small army of
window cleaners (nutters) swinging off the top on ropes.
Perhaps in the early weeks on the job the thrill of leaning over to
your fellow fenestration engineer and uttering, "you can see our
house from here", is classed as a perk of the job, but I reckon
the stress of dropping your bucket would outweigh the karma of the view
Nevertheless, still a magnificent achievement and as any Materials
Engineer will tell you, it's only possible thanks to the compressive
strength of the concrete blocks at the bottom supporting a mass of over
Is it the pinnacle of human achievement so early in the "Teeny"
decade? Or, is there a superior candidate from the arts, specifically
the movie genre and James Cameron's "Avatar"?
This film is simply remarkable for three reasons,
- It was over 2 hours long and I didn't nod off, spill the Maltesers or even have a tiny neck snap - it must be good!
- It is an incredible spectacle of 3d computer graphics and amazingly
- They came up with the daftest name ever for a "rare mineral"
least when the brains trust at Team AZoM came up with "Mozanium"
as an April fools gag we fooled most of the planet for short while, but "Unobtainium" -
really, come on guys you're meant to be the creative bunch.
Anyhow, the 3rd candidate for the human 'techy' achievement of the "Teenies"
award goes to what is probably more of a pending achievement. Hot off
the press from the Consumer Electronics show, Microsoft have disclosed their forthcoming launch of "NATAL"
- an interface technology that lets you interact with the machine
via gestures, movement and speech.
Just consider the possibilities of such a device combined with "Avatar-like"
processing and materials modelling software and you have the potential
to walk through 3d reconstructions of material structures, to perhaps
finally understand what a spiral
dislocation really looks like!
Equally, imagine the potential of such visualisation techniques in
Transport Engineering. One can envisage how it could be used to confront
the mind boggling challenge of what happens when a train covered in the wrong type of "fluffy"
snow enters a warm tunnel.
Although it has been assumed for many years that condensation wouldn't
occur and was never considered as a design issue, following recent events
we now know it leads to the spontaneous formation of UraStar Unobtrainium!