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OU on the BBC: Science Shack - How tall can you make a building?

Updated Monday, 12th June 2006

Adam Hart-Davis and the team investigate how tall they can make a building, as part of the BBC/OU's Science Shack series.

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Jump team and launcher Copyrighted  image Icon Copyright: Production team

Adam reaches giddy heights as the team explore the upper limits of building technology. They try to answer the question – is there a limit to how tall you can make a building?

The team are challenged to construct the tallest building ever made – out of paper. They’ll have to solve on a small scale many of the problems engineers face when building for real. And they are going to have to get the design right, as Adam is going to stand on the top storey. What is more the tower has to accommodate a homemade lift to get Adam up and down the tower.

While the team are frantically rolling paper tubes, Adam tests what happens when the rope on a safety lift is cut. He also has a go at crushing a brick with an enormous pair of nutcrackers. Finally, those people who entered the Tall Building web competition get their chance to show off their engineering skills, as they build a spaghetti and jelly baby tower.

How tall do you think a building can be before falling down? See if you can beat the team at the spaghetti and jelly babies Tall Building Challenge!

Web links

Great Buildings
A site dedicated to information about all manner of buildings, including tall ones.

A site dedicated to information on structural engineering.

The Institution of Civil Engineers
Site containing information about British civil engineering projects.

The BBC and the Open University are not responsible for the content of external websites.

First broadcast: Friday 2 Nov 2001 on BBC TWO

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