engineering – mammoth // building nothing out of something

Category Archives: engineering

giant tube to supply water for ten millions

The wonder of inter-basin transfer, in the August 1937 issue of Popular Mechanics: (The cover of that same issue, which wonders at the electrical power produced by and transmitted from Lake Mead, is also worth a look.)

unconventional intersections

At Slate, Tom Vanderbilt writes about the design of intersections to eliminate left-turns, which historically produced such oddities as the Jersey jughandle and the Michigan left, as well as more recent innovations like the diverging diamond interchange and continuous flow intersection.

reversing the chicago river

One of the more spectacular engineering accomplishments of the United States in the late nineteenth century was the reversal of the Chicago River. Through the construction of a series of canals — most notably, the Chicago Sanitary and Shipping Canal, seen under construction in 1896 above — the river was made to flow not into […]

restoring the land-making machine

[The fluctuating terrain of the lower Mississippi River Delta, from the USGS’s map of “land area change in coastal Louisiana from 1932 to 2010”.  Loss is in red; accumulation is in green.  The map is seen via Free Association Design, where you can see the map in more detail, including the rapidly accreting area of […]

atchafalaya iii: the morgan city floodwall

[The twin Atchafalaya river ports of Morgan City (on the east bank) and Berwick (on the west bank), captured in false-color by the “Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer” on NASA’s Terra earth-imaging satellite, May 27, 2011 — after the second opening of the Morganza Spillway.] Old River Control sits at the northern end […]

atchafalaya ii: old river control

[The Auxiliary Structure at Old River Control; photographed by the Army Corps of Engineers, Team New Orleans. Various circumstances have conspired to keep me from finishing the Floods series last week like I had hoped; there are still a few posts yet to come, and several of them will be part of this mini-series within […]

casting fields

[Map of revetments under the purview of the Army Corps of Engineers’ Team New Orleans, on the Mississippi and Atchafalaya Rivers; image produced by mammoth using data from the Army Corps.] I’ve already talked a fair about the idea that the Mississippi River is, at this point in its history, an artificially-constructed system that should […]

dike field

[A dike field in the Mississippi River near Greenfield, Mississippi; via bing maps.] In the Mississippi River, dike fields are constructed in order to direct the river’s flow to a central channel, scouring it and reducing the need for dredging.  Though their primary purpose is to thus maintain navigability for shipping, dike fields tend, as […]

six dams and six reservoirs

[Fort Peck Lake (top), Spillway (middle) and Dam (above), in northeast Montana; built between 1933 and 1940, Fort Peck is the world’s largest “hydraulically-filled” dam, which means that it was constructed by dredging suspended sediment from borrow pits and pumping it to discharge pipes at the dam site, where it settles onto the embankment.  (This […]

matter battle sublime

[Gravity Probe B, the most perfect sphere humans have created, comes within 40 atomic layers of matching its Platonic Form. The litany of innovations it took to conduct a theoretically simple experiment – one which needed precise execution – is a testament to the wondrous complexity of meatspace.]

our decrepit infrastructures

In the wake of last Monday’s Long Island Rail Road snafu — where “a tiny electrical fire in an obscure contraption of levers and pulleys installed nearly a century ago” knocked out train service for hours — the New York Times looks at five other American infrastructures which are exceptionally vulnerable due to the combination […]

the best architecture of the decade

[The Large Hadron Collider] The end of a decade inspires a lot of list compiling; in that spirit, mammoth offers an alternative list of the best architecture of the decade, concocted without any claim to authority and surely missing some fascinating architecture.   But we hope that at least it’s not boring, as this was an […]

its prettiness and romance will then be gone

As long as I’m on the subject of urban parks that serve as components of flood management systems, I ought to mention the recent Buffalo Bayou Promenade in Houston, which is not only an admirable and forward-thinking project from a city not known for its innovative ecological design (though they have built a rather seductive […]

re-engineering the earth

An article in the most recent issue of the Atlantic Monthly explores aggressive “geo-engineering” projects: “Humans have been aggressively transforming the planet for more than 200 years. The Nobel Prize–winning atmospheric scientist Paul Crutzen—one of the first cheerleaders for investigating the gas-the-planet strategy—recently argued that geologists should refer to the past two centuries as the […]