Burj Dubai, the world’s tallest building, opens today. It is very tall.

The owner probably drives a big, fast car.
The owner probably drives a big, fast car.Courtesy Poco a poco
Have you ever played that little mental game where you pretend that you won the lottery a few dozen times, or that your eleven billionaire uncles all died in a Thunderdome-style cage match, and left all their money to you? How you get the money isn’t that important in the game. That you have more money than you could possibly know what to do with is a given, and your feeble attempts at finding something to do with it is the game. New robot servants every day, all of which will be forced to tear each other to scraps each evening. Stradivari-smoked barbeque every weekend. A private mountain with guard dragons. A solid gold ocean. That sort of thing.

It’s a fun game, especially if you’re one of the elite of the United Arab Emirates, because then the game is pretty much real. I don’t think anyone has made his own solid gold ocean yet, but, at least when it comes to architecture, pretty much everything else is fair game. The UAE, see, is a federation of very small political territories on the Arabian Peninsula, and thanks to oil and some favorable trade-laws (or lack of them?) some people there have lots and lots and lots of money. And that money goes into things like building fake islands shaped like the world and palm trees large enough for hundreds of thousands of people to live on, or hotels shaped like thousand-foot-tall sailboats.

Supposedly there has been some sort of global economic issue recently (I don’t really read the news, seeing as how it takes time away from my fancy rat hobby), and that has put the brakes on a few of the UAE’s more shark-jumping projects… but not before they finished building the tallest freakin’ building in the world, the Burj Dubai! Today was the building’s grand opening, and it turns out that it’s super tall. Like, two Sears Towers tall. Like, half a mile tall. Like, really, very tall. Like, 2,717 feet tall.

When dealing with something that tall, sciency things are unavoidable. A lot of it is physics and engineering, and therefore the details are beyond me. Seriously, it took all I’ve got to wrote “details” instead of “deets,” so the deets of what it takes to erect something that tall, and keep it erected are a little more than I can reasonably be expected to reproduce. But consider the following: temperatures in Dubai, the emirate the Burj Dubai building is in, can reach 122 degrees, and concrete that cures in the heat isn’t as strong as concrete that cures in cooler temperatures, so the concrete had to be mixed at night, or with ice; the temperature at the top of the structure is 11 degrees cooler than at the base (or as much as 20 degrees cooler, according to this article); heat from the sun can cause one side of the building to expand more than the other, making the top of the building lean 3 feet in one direction; the structure had to be designed to cope with high winds, and can sway up to 6 feet at the top; the structure will use about 250,000 gallons of water a day (and, because we’re sort of in the desert here, it’ll be desalinated ocean water); captured condensation on the building’s exterior is expected to supply about 3500 gallons of water a year, to be used to help irrigate the building’s landscaping; to cool the building, it will need cooling facilities “equivalent to 10,000 tons of melting ice”; the foundations needed to keep the 2,717-foot structure up are 150 feet deep; the building has already sunk an additional 2.5 inches into the ground; and… everything else. How bizarre. If the building every catches fire, the 25,000 people who could be in it at any one time won’t necessarily have to run down half a mile of steps—supposedly there are pressurized, air-conditioned rooms throughout the building where people can “huddle to await rescue.” Huddling in a hopefully fireproof room a thousand feet up a burning building sounds awesome.

Anyway, look into it, Buzzketeers. Whatever your science preferences are, the Burj Dubai probably has something for you. (Including social sciences—you don’t building the tallest man-made structure in the history of the world without involving lots of people. You astrophysicists might be out of luck, though.)

Your Comments, Thoughts, Questions, Ideas

bryan kennedy's picture

They had an interview with the guy in North Dakota who manages the now second tallest structure in the world on the radio last night. He sounded a bit sad to be trumped. Poor NoDak.

posted on Wed, 01/06/2010 - 10:12am
Thor's picture
Thor says:

I saw a little chart in yesterday's paper that shows the new Burj Dubai is almost twice as tall as the old Sears Tower in Chicago, which back in the 70s was the tallest building in the world. That was impressive.

posted on Wed, 01/06/2010 - 12:01pm
Josh $'s picture
Josh $ says:


posted on Fri, 05/28/2010 - 3:58pm
LosectinWinders	's picture
LosectinWinders says:

I saw a little chart in yesterday's paper that shows the new Burj Dubai is almost twice as tall as the old Sears Tower in Chicago, which back in the 70s was the tallest building in the world. That was

posted on Wed, 01/07/2015 - 10:29am

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