Tag Archive: engineering


On the morning of December 1st, 2020, one of the most iconic astronomical instruments in the world collapsed. The Arecibo Telescope was not only one of the largest radio telescopes in the world, it was also a fascinating problem in structural engineering. Its loss was felt across the world. Practical Engineering provides a quick lesson on radio telescopes, a summary of the failure, and some discussion about the engineering lessons learned in the wake of the event. I hope that eventually, they can replace the telescope with an instrument as futuristic and forward-looking as the Arecibo telescope was when first conceived. It was an ambitious and inspiring structure, and we sure will miss it.

February 2017 saw one of the most serious dam-related engineering incidents in history with the failure of the service spillway at Oroville Dam. Whether they realized it or not, the people living and working downstream of Oroville Dam put their trust in the engineers, operators, and regulators to keep them safe and sound against disaster. In this case, that trust was broken. Practical Engineering provides a summary of the event, including an explanation of the engineering details behind the failure.

On April 23, 1870, engineers set off “the largest submarine explosion on record. The great submarine explosion was a stunning engineering feat, but also symbolic of a city that had grown in just a few decades from a remote backwater to become “The Paris of the West.”

Practical Engineering says, “Exploring the engineering principles behind the recent obstruction of the Suez Canal, which caused a weeklong disruption in global shipping traffic. I give a brief overview of the bank effect and dilatancy of coarse-grained soils. Hopefully, the video helps you understand a few of the engineering challenges associated with navigating massive ships through tiny canals and what can happen when they run aground!”

How to Land on the Moon

Or, “How ‘The Flying Bedstead’ Trained us for the Moon Landing.”

The Aussie boys at How Ridiculous are still having fun with their giant trampoline designed by former NASA scientist Mark Rober.

On this episode of StarTalk, Neil deGrasse Tyson reveals his love of the engineering marvels that are NYC water towers. Learn more about what makes it possible for water to be pumped into your home at a moment’s notice.

YouTuber engineerguy wrote a book called Fatal Flight, which brings vividly to life the year of operation of R.101, the last great British airship—a luxury liner three and a half times the length of a 747 jet, with a spacious lounge, a dining room that seated fifty, glass-walled promenade decks, and a smoking room. The British expected R.101 to spearhead a fleet of imperial airships that would dominate the skies as British naval ships, a century earlier, had ruled the seas. The dream ended when, on its demonstration flight to India, R.101 crashed in France, tragically killing nearly all aboard.

YouTuber engineerguy shares fascinating images and information gleaned from the 1909 to 1911 editions of the Journal The Engineer. It includes photos of the construction of the Titanic and its twin the Olympic, the launching of these Olympic-class ships, and accidents that occurred. The video includes engineering details of the ship’s engines, steering mechanism, and propellers.

YouTuber engineerguy details the engineering choices underlying the design of a beverage can. He explains why it is cylindrical, outlines the manufacturing steps needed to created the can, notes why the can narrows near its lid, shows close ups of the double-seam that hold the lid on, and details the complex operation of the tab that opens the can.

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