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Old 06-06-2017, 05:53 PM
Ornery Bob Ornery Bob is offline
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The most highly engineered object ever built.

I was watching one of the science shows and they called the Cassini probe "the most highly engineered object ever built" which sounded like fanciful writing to me.

How would you even decide what to measure? Man-hours of engineering billed? Years in development? Innovations required?

Is there really more engineering required to build the Cassini than the Burj Dubai?

Does it even make sense to ask such a question as what is the most highly engineered object built to-date?
  #2  
Old 06-06-2017, 06:24 PM
Disheavel Disheavel is offline
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How about something whose mass and operational energy is limited to the bare minimum and yet is able to function for 20 years? They can't put high powered computers into probes for a variety of reasons- energy use, cooling needs, effects of radiation on small circuits, robustness, communication is far more limiting than computational power. But I would bet that there are many wasted grams of material on the overall spacecraft.

The Burj Dubai has dozens of people working in maintanence around the clock- it is certainly not supreme engineered.

Last edited by Disheavel; 06-06-2017 at 06:25 PM.
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Old 06-06-2017, 06:34 PM
Chronos Chronos is offline
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Wouldn't the fact that it's lasted so much longer than its designed mission suggest that it's poorly engineered? That probably means that they could have made it cheaper while still accomplishing all of their goals.
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Old 06-06-2017, 06:42 PM
snfaulkner snfaulkner is offline
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Wouldn't the fact that it's lasted so much longer than its designed mission suggest that it's poorly engineered? That probably means that they could have made it cheaper while still accomplishing all of their goals.
Was the goal to last at least X years? Or to last only x years?
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Old 06-06-2017, 06:57 PM
watchwolf49 watchwolf49 is offline
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Space Shuttle ... by the measure number of individual parts, the number of individual parts custom made, number of individual parts that can break in normal usage; multiplied by number of uses ... just look at the size of the thing ...

However ... the engineering isn't especially advanced or challenging ... just rocket fuel, a nozzle and crossed fingers ...

Last edited by watchwolf49; 06-06-2017 at 06:59 PM. Reason: Sir Issac Newton and a slide rule ...
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Old 06-06-2017, 07:07 PM
Crafter_Man Crafter_Man is offline
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We've discussed this before. And I think there was a consensus that a modern nuclear bomb is the best answer.
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Old 06-06-2017, 07:17 PM
Shagnasty Shagnasty is offline
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By most measures, it is the International Space Station. Besides being the most expensive single machine ever built (about $200 billion so far), it requires massive teams of research, development and support engineers from many different participating countries. Hardly anything else even comes close.

http://www.science20.com/robert_inve...r_built-156922
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Old 06-06-2017, 07:30 PM
Shagnasty Shagnasty is offline
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We've discussed this before. And I think there was a consensus that a modern nuclear bomb is the best answer.
I am not sure exactly what question we are answering here. If it means "best engineered", Voyager 1 gives just about anything a run for its money. It was launched in 1977, is now out of the solar system and still manages to transmit regular updates back home using a transmitter just about as powerful as a refrigerator light bulb (22.4 watts). It can also still respond to commands from Earth. That is just witchcraft in my opinion. It is expected to take care of itself because any serious failures are the virtual death of the deep space probe but it just keeps chugging along.

NASA even has a page to see where it is at any given time. Engineers can talk to it but it currently takes over 38 hours (at the speed of light) to send or receive a two-way signal but it will still happily do it using that refrigerator light transmitter and even take picture if you want it too (not that there is much to see in its current location).

https://voyager.jpl.nasa.gov/where/ (to get a feel for the numbers, notice that the distance from the earth and sun look almost the same).

Last edited by Shagnasty; 06-06-2017 at 07:34 PM.
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Old 06-06-2017, 07:40 PM
Lucas Jackson Lucas Jackson is online now
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Most the things listed here were not engineered from scratch. The whole standing on the shoulders thing...

So does most engineered include all of the previous engineering? If so, truly engineered objects from start to finish (like, for example, the great pyramids) will never compete with any modern object.
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Old 06-06-2017, 07:41 PM
Baron Greenback Baron Greenback is offline
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Smartphones sit atop a gigantic pile of engineering across many, many disciplines, and they are rapidly approaching commodity status.
  #11  
Old 06-06-2017, 07:44 PM
Crafter_Man Crafter_Man is offline
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I am not sure exactly what question we are answering here. If it means "best engineered", Voyager 1 gives just about anything a run for its money.
It really depends on definitions.

If the OP is looking for a single artifact, then the Space Station or Voyager 1 are certainly good answers. But if he's looking for a generic system, nothing comes close to the nuclear bomb. More engineering time, money, property, man-hours, and resources has been spent developing the nuclear bomb than anything else in history.
  #12  
Old 06-06-2017, 07:53 PM
ssgenius ssgenius is online now
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Originally Posted by Crafter_Man View Post
It really depends on definitions.

If the OP is looking for a single artifact, then the Space Station or Voyager 1 are certainly good answers. But if he's looking for a generic system, nothing comes close to the nuclear bomb. More engineering time, money, property, man-hours, and resources has been spent developing the nuclear bomb than anything else in history.
All are good answers, however

More money was spent on the development of the B-29 than the Manhattan project.

Putting this forward to the 21th century how about the 787 or the A380 ?
  #13  
Old 06-06-2017, 07:58 PM
ssgenius ssgenius is online now
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How about a secondary related question?

Most bang for the buck in terms of engineering and results from it ?

Voyager 1 and 2 ?
Pluto New Horizons ?

The gun that killed Archduke Ferdinand?
  #14  
Old 06-06-2017, 08:23 PM
t-bonham@scc.net t-bonham@scc.net is online now
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Originally Posted by Crafter_Man View Post
If the OP is looking for a single artifact, then the Space Station or Voyager 1 are certainly good answers. But if he's looking for a generic system, nothing comes close to the nuclear bomb. More engineering time, money, property, man-hours, and resources has been spent developing the nuclear bomb than anything else in history.
Given that most of the hours spent computing for the Manhattan Project were women computerists (see here & here), it would be more accurate to say "person-hours", I'd think.
  #15  
Old 06-06-2017, 08:27 PM
jz78817 jz78817 is offline
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Originally Posted by Ornery Bob View Post

How would you even decide what to measure? Man-hours of engineering billed? Years in development? Innovations required?

Is there really more engineering required to build the Cassini than the Burj Dubai?

Does it even make sense to ask such a question as what is the most highly engineered object built to-date?
no, it doesn't. the average person thinks "good engineering" means "something designed the way I like it."
  #16  
Old 06-06-2017, 08:29 PM
Chronos Chronos is offline
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Quoth Lucas Jackson:

Most the things listed here were not engineered from scratch. The whole standing on the shoulders thing...
I'll nominate LIGO, then. It still stands on an awful lot of shoulders, of course, but it's the first device in the world to successfully do what it does. Nothing else that has ever worked is even in the same broad category.

It's also the clear winner if we take "most engineered" to mean "most precise measurements", unless anyone can name any other device that measures to one part in 10^20.
  #17  
Old 06-06-2017, 08:34 PM
scr4 scr4 is offline
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Wouldn't the fact that it's lasted so much longer than its designed mission suggest that it's poorly engineered? That probably means that they could have made it cheaper while still accomplishing all of their goals.
It was designed to work in space for 11 years: almost 7 years enroute + 4 years of science observations. (Plus years of testing on the ground, probably.) So it's only 10 years beyond its design life - not even twice as long.

Also, when you're talking about reliability - if you design something so that there's a 99% chance of it surviving for 10 years, there's probably a 98% chance of it surviving for 20 years. Though of course, some things do have finite life determined by wear of moving parts, degradation from radiation, etc., and can't be thought of in terms of mean time between failure.
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Old 06-06-2017, 09:37 PM
watchwolf49 watchwolf49 is offline
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How about a secondary related question?

Most bang for the buck in terms of engineering and results from it ?

Voyager 1 and 2 ?
Pluto New Horizons ?

The gun that killed Archduke Ferdinand?
Welsh long bows ...
  #19  
Old 06-06-2017, 11:15 PM
LSLGuy LSLGuy is offline
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The total effort to create the conventional telephone system dwarfs al the others mentioned up-thread.

Then we built the internet alongside it.

A lot of these two systems' claim to fame is simply their raw volume. But I'd argue that quantity has a quality all its own.

To be sure the OP's raw question is unanswerable until we can define what "highly engineered" means. Greatest amount of bleeding-edgeness as measured by our interdisciplinary bleed-o-meter? Greatest parts count? Greatest gross weight? etc.
  #20  
Old 06-06-2017, 11:20 PM
Whack-a-Mole Whack-a-Mole is offline
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The question is too vague to answer as the OP mentions.

Is it size? Is it number of parts? Is it dependent upon the tech of the day (e.g. the pyramids are an amazing achievement even today but especially when they were built)?

For today I'd suggest a CPU. For sheer number of "parts" (transistor count) and complexity they are hard to beat.

But then the Space Shuttle or ISS is a lot harder to build.

See the problem?

Last edited by Whack-a-Mole; 06-06-2017 at 11:21 PM.
  #21  
Old 06-06-2017, 11:25 PM
Marci Al Marci Al is offline
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Why isn't anyone suggesting the super computer? A space shuttle's operation, or any vehicle for that matter, cannot be as complex as what goes on in a supercomp's numerous processors. Each micro processor is a technological triumph in itself.
  #22  
Old 06-07-2017, 01:34 AM
Francis Vaughan Francis Vaughan is online now
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Modern supercomputers are really nothing special at all. Basically enormous numbers of high end PC processors, some with top end GPUs, and a very few with FPGAs. All off the shelf components. The communications networking is more custom on some, but that really typically comes down to a single custom chip. You could buy all the bits that go into a typical supercomputer from any on-line computer store. You just need the money to buy lots and lots of them.

As noted above "highly engineered" is not well defined. It is probably not the same as "well engineered" or "best possible engineering". Maybe it means the largest application of the engineering arts. It gets really hard to include distributed artefacts like the power grid or phone network.

The ISS would probably be the front runner for that. More engineering man hours have vanished into that than just about anything else. But it is also a lump of bits that has accreted parts over time.

Engineering isn't construction. The Burj Dubai was largely constructed by cheap labour and cranes. The engineering component is the mix of design and project management. Burj Dubai is just another big building. A team of civil engineers working with CAD systems will design the base building. The fit-out will be done by another sets of engineers - again mostly working with CAD systems, working out the electrical, lifts, water, safety and so on. Probably the biggest challenge is coordinating the construction. There are specialist engineering companies that do that. But again, it is just a very big building. Much of the design and construction is just cookie cutter repetition with small changes.

Cassini was built in a regime where every component, just about down to every nut bolt and screw was individually specified and analysed. Almost every component will have been bespoke in some manner. A great many parts will have been designed from the ground up for this one purpose. And they will have been designed to perform new jobs at the edge of scientific capability in a very hostile environment and yet be as light as possible. The manner in which such systems are built is engineering at its finest and hardest. And it takes a lot of very skilled people a very long time to perform. Extreme engineering techniques are needed. Semi-skilled workers wielding gas axes need not apply.

I suspect the WST might count as a higher level of applied engineering now.
The LHC probably deserves a mention too. But LIGO and Gravity Probe B are some of my favourites.
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Old 06-07-2017, 02:27 AM
Banksiaman Banksiaman is offline
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Another criterion could be sensitivity to performance. If as Mr Vaughan says supercomputers are nothing much, and just amalgams (amalga?) of bits, then they are no different to an average car.

A measure of sensitivity would be how little it takes for any component to fail and completely disable the function of the whole - in other words something that has to be more than the sum of its parts.

Cassini would rate here , but so would a big clock like Big Ben. Lots of components, all having to work in complete precision or the failure of a single one neutralises the overall effect of the remainder. I don't know much about computers or satellites but would every single component have the potential to completely kill the machine if it failed?
  #24  
Old 06-07-2017, 02:30 AM
Mangetout Mangetout is offline
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Wouldn't the fact that it's lasted so much longer than its designed mission suggest that it's poorly engineered? That probably means that they could have made it cheaper while still accomplishing all of their goals.
I get your point, but probably not. Mean Time To Failure for any component is... well... a statistical average - so you typically can't design an item that will last exactly X long, you design it so that the probability of critical component failure within X duration is acceptably low (and 'acceptable' is a variable dependent on a lot of factors, such as budget, the outcome of failure, redundancy of parts and function, difficulty of servicing, etc)

You pick your place on the bell curve - at one end, you made it cheap and light, and it *might* survive, but it probably won't. At the other end, you made it so that it almost certainly will survive, but it's no longer cheap and light - it's always a compromise and a betting game.

Last edited by Mangetout; 06-07-2017 at 02:31 AM.
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Old 06-07-2017, 02:58 AM
Novelty Bobble Novelty Bobble is online now
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I agree we have a rather vague set of criteria here but I'd put forward a modern jet engine.

Simply from a point of view of multiple components, challenging material requirements, harsh environment, long life and mass production. It is effectively a commodity in a way that some of the other (perhaps even more complex) low-volume items are not.
  #26  
Old 06-07-2017, 03:57 AM
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Its got to be the LHC, large hadron collider.
Not only for the number of parts, the total size, the total hours of design, but also for the accuracy, the energy involved and so on.
  #27  
Old 06-07-2017, 05:46 AM
Francis Vaughan Francis Vaughan is online now
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Wouldn't the fact that it's lasted so much longer than its designed mission suggest that it's poorly engineered? That probably means that they could have made it cheaper while still accomplishing all of their goals.
It is never quite so simple.

https://en.wikisource.org/wiki/The_D...7s_Masterpiece
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Old 06-07-2017, 08:05 AM
LSLGuy LSLGuy is offline
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There's a joking saying in racing that the ideal racecar disassociates into a cloud of dust a couple feet past the finish line. Any greater durability is wasted weight you can't afford.

Seriously, Mangetout nailed it.

If you want 99.999% probability of a complex device lasting X years under Y assumed conditions, then (assuming Y turns out to have been valid assumptions) the thing will eventually fail when the first component gets down to (roughly) 50% probability.

Which will be long after that same component passed through the <99.999% probability threshold on the way to its eventual failure.

Last edited by LSLGuy; 06-07-2017 at 08:09 AM.
  #29  
Old 06-07-2017, 08:18 AM
Novelty Bobble Novelty Bobble is online now
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There's a joking saying in racing that the ideal racecar disassociates into a cloud of dust a couple feet past the finish line. Any greater durability is wasted weight you can't afford.
There's more than a hint of truth in that. The classic Lotus 49 (still the most beautiful racing car IMHO) was always on the ragged edge of survival due to Chapman's innovative brilliance and mantra of "add lightness"

and the turbo era cars of the mid-80's were insane. The tiny 1500cc engines were boosted in qualifying trim to 1300+ bhp and all they'd be looking to do is run a few laps in order to secure pole and then replace and rebuild. Any more than half a dozen laps in quali trim and they went boom (and often did so anyway)
  #30  
Old 06-07-2017, 08:38 AM
igor frankensteen igor frankensteen is offline
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Well, obviously, the best answer to the posted question, is another question. That is, to call upon the person who asked, to define what they mean by all the terms. Engineering itself, requires that you set specifics, before the task is begun, otherwise it isn't engineering, it's just mucking about and trusting to luck.

One of the things we in the tech support world run into all the time, is projects where we can tell that the engineers were put in charge of the entire task, and problems resulted because they DID want to engineer everything. We end up with new products which would have been vastly better and much cheaper, had the engineers NOT insisted on designing an entirely new latch, or screw, or whatever in order to hold things together. There is such a thing as TOO MUCH engineering.

Last edited by igor frankensteen; 06-07-2017 at 08:42 AM.
  #31  
Old 06-07-2017, 08:55 AM
joema joema is offline
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I was watching one of the science shows and they called the Cassini probe "the most highly engineered object ever built" which sounded like fanciful writing to me....How would you even decide what to measure? Man-hours of engineering billed? Years in development? Innovations required?....
There is no single way to measure this, but a 22-core CPU chip with 7.2 billion transistors is one of the most complex, highly-engineered things ever made by mankind. They are much more complex than a 747 or Space Shuttle, in fact the Intel R&D budget required to facilitate these chips is several times that of Boeing: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/artic...l-makes-a-chip

The total semiconductor R&D budget is about $54 billion per *year*. Samsung's new fab costs $14 billion by itself.

19 new fabs were scheduled to begin construction in 2016 and 2017. From an investment and technology standpoint, it's like building the Manhattan Project Oak Ridge facilities every single year.
  #32  
Old 06-07-2017, 09:40 AM
scr4 scr4 is offline
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Is there really more engineering required to build the Cassini than the Burj Dubai?
Absolutely. Burj Dubai cost $1.5 billion to build, according to Wikipedia. Presumably that includes engineering cost as well as materials and construction. Cassini cost about the same ($1.4 billion) to build, not including launch vehicle and science operations.

But those numbers pale in comparison to some other industries. The F-35 cost $55 billion just for RDT&E (research, development, test & evaluation) (PDF cite). Boeing reportedly invest $32 billion in the 787 program - this page says $13.4 billion just for development.
  #33  
Old 06-07-2017, 09:47 AM
Chronos Chronos is offline
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Well, of course the Deacon's Masterpiece is fiction, but if it were real, it would be a truly wondrous piece of engineering indeed.

And the story is told that part of Henry Ford's genius was in emulating the Deacon's Masterpiece as closely as possible. After the Model T had been on the road for a while, he sent inspectors out to all of the junkyards, to see what had failed on each Model T to send it there. On learning of a part that had never failed, he ordered that that part be made cheaper, because it was clearly more robust (and hence expensive) than it needed to be.

On computer chips, it's hard to say that they're the most engineered thing, given that they're components of so many other things. A computer chip can't be more engineered than a 747, if the 747 itself contains one of those computer chips.
  #34  
Old 06-07-2017, 09:50 AM
msmith537 msmith537 is offline
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Wouldn't the fact that it's lasted so much longer than its designed mission suggest that it's poorly engineered? That probably means that they could have made it cheaper while still accomplishing all of their goals.
That's not really how engineering works. Designing a car to last 100,000 miles doesn't mean it will break down at 100,001.

It's more like, if you need a car to have a 100% chance of lasting 100,000 miles, regardless of driving conditions, weather, maintenance (or lack thereof), you really need to design it for 500,000. Plus all sorts of redundant and expensive automated systems to ensure that it will continue to run even if the owner never changes the oil and leaves it out in the snow.

If you just need a car with a 99% chance of lasting 100,000 miles, assuming regular maintenance and care, well, that's a much cheaper car.
  #35  
Old 06-07-2017, 10:12 AM
Really Not All That Bright Really Not All That Bright is offline
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Well, this thread did give us a factual answer. As it turns out, the answer is entirely dependent on which engineering field one works in.
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Old 06-07-2017, 10:39 AM
rbroome rbroome is offline
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I can't find the post, and my memory could be failing me here, but I remember Stranger on a train saying that automobile tires are the most highly engineered objects ever.

Hopefully, Stranger will stop by and correct/update/validate my poor memory.
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Old 06-07-2017, 10:41 AM
jz78817 jz78817 is offline
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the notion of crowning something the "most highly engineered thing ever" is silly in and of itself. Not least because someone saying that likely can't even explain why they say it.
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Old 06-07-2017, 10:42 AM
Really Not All That Bright Really Not All That Bright is offline
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I can't find the post, and my memory could be failing me here, but I remember Stranger on a train saying that automobile tires are the most highly engineered objects ever.
I suppose there's some validity to that. They last for years despite constant, massive stress and hardly ever fail.
  #39  
Old 06-07-2017, 11:13 AM
Mangetout Mangetout is offline
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the notion of crowning something the "most highly engineered thing ever" is silly in and of itself. Not least because someone saying that likely can't even explain why they say it.
C'mon - it's only one molecule away from plastic!
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Old 06-07-2017, 11:17 AM
Chronos Chronos is offline
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Wait, car tires are made out of margarine?
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Old 06-07-2017, 11:49 AM
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There's more than a hint of truth in that. The classic Lotus 49 (still the most beautiful racing car IMHO) was always on the ragged edge of survival due to Chapman's innovative brilliance and mantra of "add lightness"

and the turbo era cars of the mid-80's were insane. The tiny 1500cc engines were boosted in qualifying trim to 1300+ bhp and all they'd be looking to do is run a few laps in order to secure pole and then replace and rebuild. Any more than half a dozen laps in quali trim and they went boom (and often did so anyway)
A modern F1 car is probably in tbe race for most highlyt engineered object.
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Old 06-10-2017, 10:07 PM
betterlifethroughchemistry betterlifethroughchemistry is offline
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I am not sure exactly what question we are answering here. If it means "best engineered", Voyager 1 gives just about anything a run for its money. It was launched in 1977, is now out of the solar system and still manages to transmit
Voyager 1 was my immediate thought as well - it's the furthest object ever launched by mankind that is STILL talking to us...amazing...
  #43  
Old 06-10-2017, 10:50 PM
jz78817 jz78817 is offline
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A modern F1 car is probably in tbe race for most highlyt engineered object.
no, a Formula 1 car is nothing more than a toy for wealthy people.
  #44  
Old 06-10-2017, 11:16 PM
Francis Vaughan Francis Vaughan is online now
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Part of the question is to define "engineered". Engineering, if you take the idea across all the various domains that engineers work in, and try to distil the "engineeringness" out of them really come down to the application of domain skills, process, and knowledge, to make something that meets its specification.

Until the major problems that came to light at Takata, I would have nominated car airbags as one of the more highly engineered objects we see in daily life. Hundreds of millions of people drive every day with an explosive device right in front of their face. They depend upon this device to save them in the event of a crash, and depend upon it not to blow up in their face any other time. And there a probably of the order of a billion of them in the world. That requires serious engineering.

The precision spheres for the Gravity Probe B experiment and kilogram mass standard must rate some sort of honourable mention.
  #45  
Old 06-11-2017, 01:49 AM
Stranger On A Train Stranger On A Train is offline
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I can't find the post, and my memory could be failing me here, but I remember Stranger on a train saying that automobile tires are the most highly engineered objects ever.

Hopefully, Stranger will stop by and correct/update/validate my poor memory.
I would call it the most highly engineered single mechanism device. (A tire has multiple components, of course, but as a finished product it is installed and used as one component with no service other than inflation.) When I did some research a few years ago for a book that never got written, I found estimates of total engineering development hours in the tens of thousands of person-years of effort that have contributed to the materials and structure that go into the modern automotive radial tire. I can't think of a single tool or other "simple" device which even approaches that.

It depends on what the criteria for "most highly engineered device"; given innovations in engineering design and analysis tools I don't think merely citing labor hours or costs is really an adequate metric; both the Manhattan Project fission device and the "Super" (hydrogen bomb) took a lot of person-hours of effort but much of that was performing laborious calculations that could now be done in seconds with more precision and fidelity with a desktop computer. With the right technical knowledge one could produce the basic layout for a novel nuclear device within a few months or less, although building the systems to refine and enrich weapons grade material is more challenging. In terms of innovation and refinement, the most highly engineered finished product the average person comes into contact with on a daily basis is either the automobile or the smartphone. In military and defense projects it probably falls somewhere between the Peacekeeper Advanced Inertial Reference Sphere (AIRS) guidance system or the Keyhole digital imaging (KH-11 and -12) surveillance satellites.

For humanity overall, I'd suggest the Large Hadron Collider particularly if you include all of the experiments associated with it. The National Ignition Facility is probably a good runner up, as will be the ITER fusion power project if and when it actually becomes operational. The International Space Station is an impressive effort of construction but while many of the systems are innovative in their own way but given the amount of difficulties it has and continues to have I'd be hard pressed to call it "well-engineered".

My vote for most highly engineered self-mobile device would be the Mars Science Laboratory, which is a phenomenal work of taking a large lab worth of equipment and jamming into a package the size of a refrigerator, then designing it to roll across the abrasive regolith of an almost airless planet with remote and delayed instruction. As for the comment about the Voyager probes being "overengineered" for surviving so long, when it comes to space probes and devices the phrase "too much is never enough", particularly given the rare opportunity for NASA to launch interplanetary missions of such scope; both Voyagers survived a dive trip through Jupiter's intense radiation belts, obtained never before seen images of Saturn, and Voyager 2 to Uranus and Neptune, delivering some of the most fantastic data for planetary science imaginable. That the probes are still operating and still providing useful scientific data about the Sun's magnetic field and the heliopause boundary speaks to the enormous value we received from this mission, and from launching two simultaneous redundant probes, an indulgence which we've never seen again other than the Mars Rovers (Spirit and Opportunity).

Stranger
  #46  
Old 06-11-2017, 03:53 AM
AK84 AK84 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jz78817 View Post
no, a Formula 1 car is nothing more than a toy for wealthy people.
That does not stop it from being an extremely highly engineered piece of equipment.
  #47  
Old 06-11-2017, 06:37 AM
Francis Vaughan Francis Vaughan is online now
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An F1 car would have to rank. The level of engineering that does go into into one is extraordinary.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iptAkpqjtMQ
  #48  
Old 06-11-2017, 10:28 AM
LSLGuy LSLGuy is offline
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Originally Posted by Francis Vaughan View Post
Part of the question is to define "engineered". Engineering, if you take the idea across all the various domains that engineers work in, and try to distil the "engineeringness" out of them really come down to the application of domain skills, process, and knowledge, to make something that meets its specification.
...
This is a superb distillation.

Which moves the onus onto the specification. Simple specs (e.g. a homemade dog house about this [waves arms] big.) are trivial to meet and require only the most rudimentary of engineering. It does require some engineering; you can still build a doghouse that doesn't work at all or that collapses or falls apart. We've all seen this cartoon of several ways to fail to successfully engineer a simple tree swing. https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com...da8b087807.jpg

The more extreme the specs the more engineering required to meet any of them, much less all of them.

Extremity can be size (a gigantic bridge or an almost quantum-scale transistor), environment (deep in the ocean, inside a living body, out in space, high or low temperatures), physical strength, bleeding edgeness of tech, reliability, production efficiency, cost. Et cetera for many more parameters.

The hardest tradeoffs are the antithetical X/Y ratios. e.g. It needs to be strong and light: strength/weight needs to be a large number. It needs to be reliable and cheap: lifespan/cost must be large (or cost/day of life must be small).

These antithetical ratios, of which there are many, lead to the classic trilemma saying: "Cheaper, faster, better. Pick two."

A real project doesn't have a mere trilemma; it has an icosalemma at each of thousands of interlocking junctures. A kilo-icosalemma. And each decision feeds into the connections to all the others. So soon you arrive at the kilo2-icosalemma AKA the dreaded megicosalemma.

Last edited by LSLGuy; 06-11-2017 at 10:30 AM.
  #49  
Old 06-11-2017, 10:48 AM
rbroome rbroome is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Stranger On A Train View Post
I would call it the most highly engineered single mechanism device. (A tire has multiple components, of course, but as a finished product it is installed and used as one component with no service other than inflation.) When I did some research a few years ago for a book that never got written, I found estimates of total engineering development hours in the tens of thousands of person-years of effort that have contributed to the materials and structure that go into the modern automotive radial tire. I can't think of a single tool or other "simple" device which even approaches that.<snip>
Stranger
Thanks for the reply!
  #50  
Old 06-11-2017, 11:24 AM
am77494 am77494 is offline
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Originally Posted by Stranger On A Train View Post
I can't think of a single tool or other "simple" device which even approaches that.
I believe the amount of research that went into tires is comparable to the composite fan blades on turbine engines, that can bend while spinning at high speeds when being hit by birds.

The composite cryogenic (liquid H2) storage tanks developed by NASA come close too.
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