15 of the Most Interesting Engineering World Records
If you grew up in the '90s and early '00s, there is a good chance that you, a friend, or a teacher owned a Guinness World Records book. Packed with stories and pictures of people accomplishing tremendous feats, you might have even dreamed of getting your name and picture listed on one of the many categories featured.
The Guinness Book of World Records, or simply the Guinness World Records, is a reference book/list that is published each year that highlights the tremendous and extreme accomplishments of people and the natural world. If you ever hear the terms, fastest, strongest, or biggest in the world to describe a person or object accurately, the chances are that that person or object has made its way into the book.
Extreme feats that occasionally get glanced over, but definitely should be celebrated also occur in the world of engineering. We thought it would be fun to take a look at some of the most impressive engineering world records that have happened recently, or have stood the test of time, or that could be broken in the next few years. Who knows, maybe you will set an engineering world record one day.
1. The SSC Tuatara: The world's fastest production car
This seems to change every few years. Nonetheless, at the moment, the SSC Tuatara holds the title of the king of the road. Created, designed, and manufactured by American automobile manufacturer SSC North America, the car is a direct successor to the already blindingly fast Ultimate Aero. The SSC Tuatara is a whole other beast. Just this past October, the hypercar generated an average top speed of 316.11 mph (508 km/h), giving the Tuatara the title of the fastest production car, a speed that completely eradicates the previous record of 278 mph (447 km/h) set by the Koenigsegg Agera RS.
The SSC boasts a whopping 1750 horsepower engine, an impressive, sleek aerodynamic body, and an otherworldly price tag. There was some recent controversy around the legitimacy of the cars' record, due to potentially inaccurate measuring instruments. Nonetheless, the Tuatara SCC still maintains this engineering world record.
2. The world's tallest building could soon be a thing of the past
The Burj Khalifa sits an impressive 2,716.5 feet high (828 meters) and features more than 160 stories. This Dubai based skyscraper breaks not one but seven engineering world records, which include the tallest building in the world, the tallest free-standing structure in the world, the greatest number of stories in the world, as well as the elevator with the longest travel distance in the world, just to name a few.
As many as 12,000 workers worked on the building each day during the peak of construction, taking only six years to complete the exterior. However, the Burj Khalifa may not hold these engineering records for long. The 3,280 feet (1,000 meter) high Jeddah Tower could overtake the Burj Khalifa in the next few years, although, its construction has stalled for now.
3. The world's longest bridge is in China
Would you take a ride on the Danyang–Kunshan Grand Bridge? This bridge currently holds the title for the world's longest bridge. Located in China as part of the Beijing-Shanghai High-Speed Railway, the bridge spans 102.4 miles (165 kilometers). The bridge itself only took China 4 years to build, and 10,000 workers were employed in its making. The bridge crosses through low rice paddies that are part of the Yangtze River Delta as well as Yangcheng Lake in Suzhou. How much concrete did it take to create a bridge of this magnitude? Try 63,566,400 cubic feet (1,800,000 cubic meters) of concrete.
4. The world's fastest tractor is faster than most sports cars
The terms "fast" and "tractor" have probably never popped into your mind together. But we promise you that this tractor would destroy whatever you are driving right now in a drag race. Dubbed the Fastrac Two, this mighty tractor can reach speeds of around 150 mph (241.4 km/h). J.C. Bamford Excavators Ltd was already making waves with their modified tractors when they unveiled their Fastrac One tractor, which hit speeds of 104 mph (167 km/h) in the summer of 2019. The Fastrac Two is 10% lighter and more streamlined, helping it set this new world record. It features a 7.2 liter, 6-cylinder JCB Dieselmax engine, a peak output of 1,006 hp at 3,150rpm, and over 2,500Nm of torque.
5. The world's biggest passenger ship is owned by Royal Caribbean
If speedy tractors and hypercars are not your thing, you could make your way onto the world's largest passenger ship. The Symphony of the Seas is the largest cruise ship in the world. It has 18 decks, 22 restaurants, 24 pools, 2,759 cabins, a park with over 20,000 tropical plants. It even has the world's tallest water slide.
To operate such a ship, you need a crew of 2,200 people. As for its capacity, the boat can comfortably fit 6,680 people throughout its 1,188-foot (362 meter) long body. The Royal Caribbean currently owns the boat. Would you ever take a cruise?
6. The greatest number of passengers on a single aircraft at once — It saved thousands of lives
Commercial airplanes can feel a bit crowded during high-season. However, nearly 30 years ago, an El Al Boeing 747 broke the Guinness World Record for the greatest number of passengers on a single aircraft at one time. This record is still held up to this day. For a little bit of a background, the Boeing 747 has a capacity of between 350 and 400 passengers.
In 1991, the collapse of the Ethiopian government put the country's Jewish population in harm's way. Jewish organizations around the world worked together to help those who wanted to leave the country, through a covert program dubbed Operation Solomon. The process included non-stop flights of 35 Israeli aircraft between Addis Ababa and Tel Aviv and the transportation of 14,325 people in 36 hours. It has been recorded that one El Al Boeing 747 plane had as many as 1,122 passengers on it. They accomplished this feat and saved these people's lives by removing the seats on the aircraft.
7. The largest gathering of robots dancing in synchronized movements was a little bit creepy
A large group of robots gathering together makes us a bit nervous. However, in this case, these robots were not there to take over the world. They were simply there to dance. In 2017, the Chinese company WL Intelligent Technology Co., based in Guangzhou, Guangdong, organized 1069 robots to put together a massive dancing event that caught the world's attention. Though not as fluid as any dancer that you may see on TV, the robot's movements were impressive. The world record beat out a previous record set by another China-based company, Ever Win Company & Ltd, which had 1,007 dancing robots.
8. The world's largest fireworks show was epic
In the new year, we will be drenched in a celestial web of fireworks. Perhaps someone will try to break the Guinness World Record for fireworks? Until then, Tim Borden holds the record for the largest firework ever created. In February of 2020, Borden created a 26-foot (8 mt) long mortar to launch the record-breaking 62-inch shell (1.57 mt) a mile (1,600 mt) into the air. The previous world record occurred in the United Arab Emirates, where a 2,397-pound (1 tonne) shell was successfully launched for New Year's celebrations in January 2018.
9. The youngest person to achieve nuclear fusion is a teenager
What were you doing in middle school? Probably not creating a functioning nuclear reactor at home. As if in an episode of Dexter's Laboratory, this year 12-year-old, Jackson Oswalt achieved nuclear fusion in his house in Memphis, Tennessee, just hours before his 13th birthday. This made him the world's youngest person to achieve nuclear fusion. As explained by the young boy genius, "I have been able to use electricity to accelerate two atoms of deuterium together so that they fuse into an atom of helium 3 [isotope], which also releases a neutron which can be used to heat up water and turn a steam engine, which in turn produces electricity." Just imagine what he will be up to in the next decade.
10. Duke University Engineers built the world's fastest electric monowheel
A monowheel looks like something that you might see in Tron Legacy. For a portion of the COVID-19 lockdown, a Duke University Engineering team led by Anuj Thakkar spent their free time building and testing the world's fastest electric monowheel. Interestingly, the monowheel has a rich history, going way back to the 19th century. This modern monowheel uses an 11 kW continuous and 23 kW peak electric motor to reach speeds over 70 mph (112 km/h), making it the fastest monowheel ever created. If you want to learn more about this crazy contraption, be sure to stop by here.
11. The world's longest glass-bottom bridge was built in China
We are headed back to China for another impressive bridge. Now, this is not your everyday bridge. It is a glass-bottom bridge. For those of you terrified of heights, you might want to stay very far away from this bridge. Opening just this past July, the stunning floating structure set the world record for the largest glass bridge structure. The bridge is an impressive 1,726 feet (526 meters) in length and sits above the Huangchuan Three Gorges Scenic Area at about 669 feet (204 meters). The red towers make the glass-bridge truly stunning. Would you cross it?
12. The most energy-efficient transportation
In theory, this vehicle would be able to travel half the globe using just one liter of gas. Dubbed the Eximus IV, this student student-built railroad car has set a record just this past year at the annual Delsbo Electric contest for the world's most energy-efficient vehicles. The car hit an energy efficiency of 0.517 Wh/person-km. The sleek vehicle also feels like it could make an appearance in the film Tron.
13. The world's largest cargo plane is a beast
The Antonov An-225 is the world's largest operational cargo plane and boasts some impressive statistics. The massive cargo plane features six massive turbofan engines and boasts a wingspan of 290 feet (88.4 meters) and a length of 275 feet (84 meters). The six enormous Ivchenko Progress D-18T turbofan engines are capable of pumping out over 23 thousand kg of thrust. The Antonov An-225 is so massive that it has been called the "true monster of the skies." When empty, the plane weighs around 628,317lbs (285,000 kg).
14. The fastest internet connection would make gaming a breeze
If you are struggling with slow connection speeds, you might want to skip this section. Sometimes, it feels as if the internet is never fast enough. So, researchers from the Monash, Swinburne, and RMIT universities in Australia decided to create a system that would sate even the hungriest of data geeks. In the published paper in Nature Communications, the team describes how they made an internet connection that managed to hit speeds of 44.2 terabits per second, which is a new world record. They actually created this blindly fast connection using standard optic fiber and soliton crystal micro-comb and demonstrated the speeds both in the laboratory and on an existing network in the greater metropolitan area of Melbourne, Australia.
15. 200 Drones fly indoors simultaneously
If you worried about the synchronized robots we mentioned earlier. This one is definitely not for you. Earlier this year French startup and drone light show specialist, Dronisos, set the world record of the most drones flying indoors simultaneously during the San Giovanni Festival. How many drones were flown during the festival? 200. Equipped with lights, these drones were able to fly in complete sync. This drone swarm was used to tell creative stories through 'dances'. Imagine seeing a flock of 200 drones flying outside with no context. What would you think?
What is your favorite engineering world record?