5 Insanely Huge Things You Won't Believe Aren't Photoshopped
We're starting to get the feeling that every engineer's life goal is to make something really fucking huge. All the jaw-dropping objects on this list are surely quite useful, and some of them might even need to be this gigantic to do their jobs. But we think that mainly somebody just wanted to see how big they could make them:
The Massive Ship That Carries Other Massive Ships
Here's a prime example: We suspect this giant ship that is carrying a bunch of other giant ships is the result of a drunken bet between millionaires who wanted to see just how many boats they could pile on top of each other without sinking them.
Rich man's Jenga isn't for pussies.
Actually, this is the MV Blue Marlin, a "heavy lift ship" with a deck as long as two football fields, designed to transport all sorts of enormous objects over water -- not just other ships but entire gas refineries and ... whatever the hell this is.
It's a doomsday device.
If you're still having trouble getting a sense of scale of this thing, let's look at it compared to a Navy warship. After the USS Cole was bombed in 2000, the hole in it made it unable to sail. The Marlin stepped in and was able to ship the whole destroyer back to the naval yard for repairs, and it looked like it had room to carry two more of them:
They removed the giant red pegs first to make it easier to load.
But what if you need to need to lift something even bigger? Like, say, an oil rig? That's when you bring in The Claw:
Pronounced "The Cllaaaaaaawwwwww."
Designed by the American Versabar corporation, this immense device that they call The Bottom Feeder or simply The Claw is designed to retrieve immense objects from the ocean floor. To get some idea of how huge this contraption is, you can zoom in to the high-resolution image to see the tiny little people working on it:
"You need a masters in vending machine engineering to work this rig."
Apparently, oil rigs getting knocked over by hurricanes is a considerable problem -- ironically partly due to climate changes caused by the oil industry. Since it's the responsibility of oil barons to retrieve their own sunken rigs from the sea floor, Versabar engineered a 122-foot tall grappling device that can reach deep into the ocean to retrieve the oil industry's immense assets.
Not as immense as the claw, but they're immense, trust us.
Versabar's claw can lift up to 10,000 tons, which is about 10 times what your average oil platform weighs, but it's there in case they ever need to lift, like, Cthulhu or something.
Old-Timey Lumber Operations Were Insane
This is either the world's biggest game of Jenga, or else it's the Seattle Cedar Mill, circa 1919. After cutting logs into planks, wood mills would stack the wood like this to dry it out for up to nine months, because that's just how wet and depressing it is in Seattle.
"We'd also rent them out as noose holders."
Of course, to an amateur like yourself, this probably looks like an incredibly dangerous and/or insane way to stack wood. And you're right! In 1958, a single errant spark ignited the stacks in the mill and destroyed the whole lumber yard. The fire was so intense that hot up-currents of air carried 5-foot-long pieces of burning wood throughout the city, raining massive fiery chunks of death like the apocalyptic wrath of a vengeful god.
Another way to store all that excess timber that lumberjacks were frantically cutting down in those days was to use it to build ad-hoc railway bridges like this one located near Columbia City, Oregon:
Made of 90 percent air!
The purpose of this bridge was to allow trains access to collect more logs. Holy shit, it was like a dick-measuring contest where the loser was nature.
And while it's striking to see that much lumber stacked haphazardly like that, some of these logs are pretty impressive on their own:
"Hey, Johnny! Check this out! Johnny? Johnny?"
Back before "environmentalism" was a word in the English vocabulary, people used to look at the giant redwood trees of California and see only dollar signs. These are the largest trees in the world by trunk diameter, so before the days of heavy industry, they had to be cut down by hand. Imagine that little guy hacking away at this mighty redwood with an axe. You'd be proud, too.
"We brought down more hardwood than your grandmother."
The logged trees of course had to be transported to the lumber yards, so they were hauled somehow onto a train that actually appears dwarfed by the immense logs it's carting away:
We suddenly want tootsie rolls.
Skyscrapers of the Sea
This one might not seem so spectacular until you realize that the things that look like people lying on beach towels are actually cars. This is a photograph of part of the Bullwinkle drilling rig being towed out to the Gulf of Mexico in 1988. Here's what it looks like dwarfing some houses:
It's Louisiana; the people in those houses are used to seeing weird shit.
Or to put things in a little more perspective, it's basically the Empire State Building that they're towing out there, lying on its side, looming over all of the huge ships that look like squirrels in comparison. That's the kind of structure it takes if you want to suck oil from under the ocean floor:
Not Pictured: The Peter North.
But really, everything about oil and gas platforms is insane -- they seem to be intentionally designed to be terrifying for the people working on them, just to make sure they filter all but the craziest of employees for the task. Check out this huge building just chilling on top of one massive concrete pillar.
Cloud City after the icecaps melt.
That's the Draugen oil field platform, an oil rig set up in 1993 by the Norwegians to harvest that black gold somebody put under their ocean floor. With the constant threat of giant waves, stormy weather, icebergs, and killer whales, the Norwegians figured the best way to protect their investment was to build a huge concrete pylon up from the ocean floor and balance the rig on top, which also makes it the best place to hide during a zombie invasion.
Sadly, not a Left 4 Dead mod.
To get a sense of scale, take a look at the three-story apartment they put on it so that the workers had a place to hang up their pants:
So this is how The Jetsons begins ...
All of that, balanced precariously on a single concrete column, with the roaring fury of the ocean crashing into it 24 hours a day.
Giant Aircraft Designed to Carry Other Aircraft
How the hell is this thing supposed to fly? It can and it does, apparently. This is the Myasishchev VM-T, and it's designed to carry space shuttles, and parts for them. That thing on its back that's bigger than the actual plane is the space shuttle's fuel tank, just so you know how much juice it took to get one of those things into the air.
It still managed to fly just fine, just as it did when it was somehow carrying the shuttle itself on its back:
But the per-passenger baggage limit is still 50 lbs.
The plane was only in use for a few years, because the Soviet shuttle program, after its first and only mission, ran out of money and got canceled, much like the Soviet Union itself.
But engineers have been designing aircraft intended to carry other aircraft for around 80 years. Here's an old-timey blimp that acted as an aerial aircraft carrier/mothership:
It was filled with helium, so at least they sounded like aliens.
That's the U.S. Navy's Macon, one of the largest things we've ever managed to make fly.
"Who wants to join the 50-Foot-High Club?"
We've already shown you the incredible pictures of how they constructed these beasts. The Navy had two, each zeppelin hauling five fighter planes, as well as the 91 crew members they needed to get the damn thing off the ground.
Enemies targeted it with arrows and pins on sticks.
Whenever they were needed, the planes could swarm out of the airship like angry bees. And they could re-dock with it in mid-air by grappling onto a hook mounted on the underside of the craft.
You actually had to fail the sanity test to become a pilot back then.
Of course, after that little Hindenburg mishap, people suddenly realized that giant airships had some disastrous shortcomings, so we don't really bother building them bigger than the Goodyear Blimp anymore.
Hydroelectric Dams Are Full of Mind-Bogglingly Huge Machines
This guy is standing in front of one of the 24 giant turbines of La Rance Barrage, a dam in France which held the record for the largest tidal power plant until the Koreans opened their Sihwa Lake Tidal Power Station in 2011. He's probably hoping desperately that nobody switches it on. But if you think that's absurdly huge, check out these guys installing the turbine into the Grand Coulee Dam in 1974.
It looks like they're installing a new hyperdrive into the Enterprise for J.J. Abrams' next Star Trek sequel.
But hey, it takes some massive and terrifying machinery if you're trying to contain this shit:
Either this is CGI from a Roland Emmerich movie, or those tiny people have about five seconds to live. In reality, this is the emergency spillway of the Sayano-Shushenskaya hydroelectric power station in Russia, and those people are probably perfectly safe. Probably.
Russia would surely publicize any potential danger.
See the tiny little micro-people standing around at the top right? Spillways like these help to give excess water somewhere to go when it gets too high, because if it goes somewhere you don't want it to go, it can do some serious damage. Like what happened at this same dam back in 2009, when torrents of water crashed through the turbine room. Here's what it looked like before:
Like an airport, minus the Starbucks and strip searches.
Like an airport ... after every plane crashes into the terminal.
Yes, water did that. When one of the dam's failsafes, well, failed, the full force of nature's liquid fury rushed into the turbine room, utterly destroying it and killing 75 people in the process. Here's what it did to one of those massive turbines we mentioned earlier:
Sadly, their policy didn't cover acts of "HOLY FUCKING SHIT!"
Nine out of the 10 turbines that powered the plant were ripped out of the concrete and left lying around like toys on some ungrateful kid's bedroom floor. The scale of the catastrophe was so huge that Vladimir Putin came to check out the one force of nature that's almost as powerful as he is.
"I'm telling you this was a hurricane caused by the gays. I've been told it's possible to be raining men."
For more photos that'll make you look twice, check out 24 Famous Photos You Won't Believe Were Fake and 17 Creepy Photographs You Won't Believe Aren't Fake.
Related Reading: Nature can do some insanely huge things too, like this crab the size of your car. If you'd prefer huge versions of things you loved as a kid, we can help with that too. And hey, here's a laser the size and shape of the death star. Since you're still reading, you'll probably want to check out these apocalyptic explosions.