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National Geographic


The race is on to become the world’s biggest. Crowned the biggest in their fields, structures like the 600-metre Burj Dubai skyscraper and the 99,000-ton USS Nimitz represent the most cutting-edge advances in architecture and engineering today. But these mind-blowing 21st century constructions would not be possible without the historical breakthroughs that propelled these fields to new heights.
This new four-part series Big, Bigger, Biggest examines the various engineering leaps that helped these structures become historical giants. How did bridges evolve in size from simple bamboo walkways to modern marvels such as Japan’s Akashi Bridge? And what advances have allowed buildings to grow from a few storeys in size to the modern skyscraper?
Skyscraper and Bridge examine the world’s tallest building, the 600-metre Burj Dubai, and Japan’s Akashi Bridge – the world’s longest suspension bridge – to identify hundreds of years of innovation that have made these structures possible. A masterpiece based on a century of shipbuilding advancements, Aircraft Carrier USS Nimitz is equipped with state-of-the-art catapults that launch F18 jets off the runway and two nuclear reactors that enable the ship to sail for 20 years without refuelling. London Heathrow Airport’s Terminal 5 in Airport builds off seven other airports’ clever designs to bring the airport’s annual number of passengers up to 100 million and to shuffle 4,000 bags an hour through 18 kilometres of conveyor belt.


  • Big Bigger Biggest: Trains
    The French 'Train à Grande Vitesse (TGV)’, regularly reaches speeds exceeding 300 km/hr. This film explores how the TGV was made possible through a series of four historic engineering breakthroughs.
  • Big Bigger Biggest: Canals
    Through the rainforests of Central America stretches one of the biggest manmade marvels on the planet, the Panama Canal. It owes its success to 4 key inventions found in a series of landmark canals.
  • Big Bigger Biggest: Aircraft
    We reveal the technological leaps forward that have enabled the world's biggest cargo aircraft - the Antonov 124 - to be developed. And also see how it transports a huge train from Germany to India.
  • Big Bigger Biggest: Space Station
    Using high-end computer generated imagery, this film reveals the technological leaps forward that have enabled the world’s biggest space station; the International Space Station to be built.
  • Big Bigger Biggest: Airport
    Heathrow Airport, London, is the busiest international airport in the world. We reveal how seven technological breakthroughs enabled engineers to build the latest terminal of this airport: Terminal 5.
  • Big Bigger Biggest: Ice Breaker
    Weighing in at over 93 thousand tonnes, the Timofey Guzhenko is by far the biggest icebreaking ship to operate in the Arctic Ocean. It can smash through solid ice a metre and a half thick and pulverise blocks of ice the size of a car with its huge propellers. This film explores icebreaking ship technology through four historic engineering breakthroughs. The film explores the inner workings of landmark icebreakers, including the world's first icebreaker, the German Eisbrecher 1 and the powerful nuclear powered Soviet icebreaker, the Lenin. Each features a major technological innovation that allowed engineers to build bigger icebreakers. Using stunning CGI animation, this film reveals the incredible stories behind these machines. Four ingenious leaps forward that enabled icebreakers to evolve …from BIG to BIGGER into the Arctic Ocean's BIGGEST."
  • Big Bigger Biggest: Canal Zone
    Examine the ingenious technological breakthroughs behind the success of the Panama Canal.
  • Big Bigger Biggest: Prison
    Explore the technology behind the building of the North Branch Correctional Institution.
  • Big Bigger Biggest: Metro
    A look at the historic inventions that led to the success of London’s underground metro.
  • Big Bigger Biggest: Tower
    Rising 610 metres tall, the Canton Tower is the tallest television tower in the world. It's required great leaps in technology to be built. In this film we explore the key historic towers that made these engineering breakthroughs. Using stunning CGI animation, we reveal the incredible stories behind the Washington Monument, the Eiffel Tower, Canada's CN Tower and the record-breaking Canton Tower, and the innovations that have enabled towers to grow in size. Four ingenious leaps forward that enabled towers to evolve …from BIG to BIGGER into the world's BIGGEST."
  • Big Bigger Biggest: Train
    Explore the historic engineering breakthroughs behind France’s fast TGV trains.
  • Big Bigger Biggest: Cruise Ship
    The Independence of the Seas: Worlds biggest luxury ship in 2008, 18 storey high, weighing as mush as 430 jumbo jets. This episode uncovers the technology that has allowed the ship to be developed.
  • Big Bigger Biggest: Tunnel
    This film reveals the six technological leaps that have allowed the world's longest & deepest Tunnel - the Gotthard Base Tunnel - to be built. It stretches 57-kms through the heart of the Swiss Alps.
  • Big Bigger Biggest: Telescope
  • Big Bigger Biggest: Bridge
  • Big Bigger Biggest: Canal
    Through the rainforests of central america stretches one of the biggest manmade marvels on the planet, the panama canal. A colossal engineering project aims to double the canal's capacity, almost a century after it was inaugurated. The panama canal owes its success to four key inventions found in a series of landmark canals. At the heart of each lies a major technological breakthrough that allows ever bigger ships to navigate landlocked areas. One by one travelling up the scale, we'll reveal the incredible stories behind these structures, and the inventions that allowed each one to carry tonnes more cargo than the last -- four ingenious leaps forward, from big, to bigger, into the americas' biggest.
  • Big Bigger Biggest



  • The Burj Dubai photo

    The Burj Dubai

    The tallest man-made structure on earth, a city in the sky, is the pinnacle of skyscraper...

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