• Question: what was the hardest thing to make

    Asked by fact499emu to Michael S, Martin M, Christie, Bruno Silvester L, Andrew M, Alexander dB on 1 Mar 2024.
    • Photo: Martin McCoustra

      Martin McCoustra answered on 1 Mar 2024:


      Probably one of the most complex machines ever made was the Apollo spacecraft that took men to the moon. It’s amazing to think that we managed to get there in such a short time in the 1960s.

    • Photo: Christie Waddington

      Christie Waddington answered on 4 Mar 2024:


      Humans are great engineers – we’ve made so many great things! Even back in Ancient Rome/Egypt to modern times it’s an area we have excelled at. Just listed a few here:
      1. The International Space Station the complex maths involved including how to get it into orbit, withstand the cold of space, could last a long time, have all the science kit up there, the complex electronics and keep humans alive.
      2. Pyramids in Egypt – if you think they didnt have big machines back then, and they made these massive structures with tombs and passageways that were that tall all by hand! And that they have stayed standing even from ancient Egyptian times!
      3. Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco – this was made back in the 1930s. Back then it was the world’s longest and tallest suspension bridge (4200ft, 0.8 miles, 1.3 km), and was named the “bridge that couldn’t be built” at the time. One of the main issues was nature – fast flowing rivers and strong winds, and was on a fault line where they have earthquakes! Even with all this, it’s still standing today!

    • Photo: Alexander de Bruin

      Alexander de Bruin answered on 4 Mar 2024:


      generally anything that takes a lot of people, or a big step up in scale (amount or size) becomes a big challenge. As an example, building a wall is fine (not that I can do that either!), building the great wall of China was much more challenging.

    • Photo: Andrew McDowall

      Andrew McDowall answered on 4 Mar 2024:


      Perhaps I might suggest Harrison’s H-series marine chronometers (very accurate clocks); Trevithick’s Puffing Devil; or Brunnel’s SS Great Eastern, with an honourable mention to Babbage’s Difference and Analytical Engines (mostly because he was so busy dreaming of the next machine he constantly failed to build the last one) (well, that and the discovery of the Antikythera Mechanism makes the Difference engine a little less impressive).

      Each seem to mark a point where history lurches off in a new direction.

    • Photo: Bruno Silvester Lopes

      Bruno Silvester Lopes answered on 13 Mar 2024:


      The hardest thing to make is to carve perfect diamonds from a large rock diamond. The person has to know exactly how many diamonds it would yield and their carat weights. It would need a lot of maths skills and great judgement.

    • Photo: Michael Schubert

      Michael Schubert answered on 22 Mar 2024:


      I don’t do much engineering, so the experts here have already given you the best possible answers I can think of!

      The hardest thing I’ve ever had to make in my own science was a special protein that your cells use to fold your DNA up very small and block the genes you don’t need. It took me several years to get it right in the end!

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