Telly techGet an insight into some engineering wonders

Engineering connections: Formula 1

Richard Hammond reveals the surprising engineering connections behind the glamorous appearances of the Formula 1 car. 800-horsepower thoroughbreds, F1 cars cost millions of pounds to design and build, and require a whole team to ensure they just start. But behind all the complication lies an amazing singularity of purpose: to go as fast as possible around a track for two hours on a Sunday. Attaining huge speeds requires a precision-built engine, which takes its inspiration from revolutionary cannon. At F1 speeds even keeping the wheels on the ground is no mean feat, and engineers had to turn to ancient mariners and their ‘lateen' sails to prevent the cars from taking off. Richard visits a forge to see how ancient swords help to make strong light wheels out of a highly flammable metal.

Rolls Royce pioneered a new material for fan blades for jet engines which also makes F1 cars light, strong, and safe. And the same extraordinary thread that makes bullet-proof vests keeps the fuel safe in an F1 car, even in a high speed crash. Watch the show on National Geographic on May 23, at 9 p.m.

Burj Al Arab

Richard Hammond checks out one of the world's tallest and most distinctively shaped hotels - the 121 meter high Burj al Arab, or Arabian Tower. Rising from its own custom-built island, 300 meters offshore, the sail-shaped building has already become one of the world's most recognisable buildings, and an icon for Dubai, on the Persian Gulf.

Behind the acres of gold leaf and marble lie ingenious engineering solutions. Sea defenses, inspired by the game of jacks, rely on the power of nothing to absorb the energy of waves.

The cam of an engine which rotates with an 'eccentric' off-centre movement allows engineers to overcome desert heat. Controls for the luxurious electrical fittings could have threatened the safety of the building. The air-conditioning in a tall hotel in the desert might have made it impossible to open the door without the engineering legacy of a 19th Century French coal-mine — the airlock. Watch the show on National Geographic on May 24 at 9 p.m.

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