MODERN TECHNOLOGICAL ACHIEVEMENTS
A few examples of modern achievements will illustrate some of the advances made in the field of technology and engineering in the past 50 years. The examples chosen are some that stand out and have a particular appeal to me personally, although there may be many more examples that others may consider more deserving of mention.
In the section on ancient feats of engineering, the emphasis was mostly on size and the fact that they had survived to the present day. Technology in the past 50 years has included the building of computers and we have become accustomed to the products of the newer technologies becoming obsolescent in a relatively short time. Computers themselves are the most obvious victims. The co-founder of Intel, Gordon E. Moore, observed in a 1965 paper, that in the history of computing hardware, the number of transistors on integrated circuits doubles approximately every two years. This is known as Moore’s law and not only was this true, but the actual performance was seen to double every 18 months. This prophecy is said to be self-fulfilling because the industry can control the developments in the technology. It is the emergence of powerful computing systems, which has enabled the rapid development in all fields of science. Computer chips are also embedded in a lot of consumer products such as cars and a tune up with a screwdriver is no longer possible. Modern aircraft are heavily computerised and utilise all the latest electronic navigation aids.
Despite the continuing advances in technology, sometimes they seem to stop for a while. Examples are manned lunar landings and supersonic passenger planes. I think these were important landmarks and are worthy of mention. The other examples include an advanced research laboratory in the deepest mine, the longest road tunnel, the highest building and one of the greatest engineering projects ever undertaken. Ancient edifices were often dedicated to gods and their construction was driven by the attempt of a mighty ruler to provide places where people could gather for the purpose of worship or meditation in a place of beauty. To show that this is still a reason to build such places in modern times we have added an example of such a place, which itself holds a record of size.
If some new feat of engineering appears that is really outstanding, we feel compelled to add it to our pages. Near the end of 2016 the announcement of the completion of the New Containment Shelter at Chernobyl in the Ukraine was announced. This is a major, more permanent step in the handling of one of the world’s great industrial disasters, which occurred when Reactor No. 4 at the Chenobyl Nuclear Power Station suffered a meltdown in 1986. Although this occurred while the Ukraine was still a part of the USSR, this remedial project was handled by The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), which was a major donor, together with contributions from most European countries and other international donors.