Examining the advances in engineering that made some of the world's most iconic structures possible. Big, Bigger, Biggest reveals the key inventions that allowed structures to evolve from simple and small into complex and Big. Each episode opens showcasing the largest example of its kind and asks the question, 'how did it grow so big?' Then a whirlwind tour of CGI, demonstrations and actuality delivers the answer. Superstructures grow, evolve, bend, twist, move and collapse to reveal their secret workings - buckle up and prepare to be amazed!
1. Submarine At 171m long, the USS Pennsylvania is the biggest submarine in the US Navy. It can dive deeper than a thousand feet, sail for 20 years without refueling, and remain submerged for up to 6 months. The vessel carries a crew of 155 men and a deadly nuclear arsenal. This episode explores how this submarine was made possible through a series of six historic engineering breakthroughs.
2. Dam This episode reveals the technological leaps forward that have allowed the world's largest hydroelectric dam - the Three Gorges Dam in China, to be built. The Dam harnesses the power of China's great Yangtze River. It is over two kilometres long, towers over 60 storeys high and creates a reservoir 600 kilometres in length. On completion the scheme will be able to generate 22,500 megawatts of power - enough to supply electricity to 60 million people.
3. Space Station This episode reveals the technological leaps forward that have enabled the world's biggest space station - the International Space Station, to be built. The International Space Station orbits 200 miles above our heads, hurtling around the Earth at seventeen and a half thousand miles an hour. It is one of the greatest engineering feats of all time. Its crew performs vital experiments that will one day allow humans to live permanently in space. A test bed for future missions deeper into space, the Space Station could enable future generations to journey throughout the Solar System or even live on Mars.
4. Cruise Ship This episode reveals the technological leaps that have allowed the world's biggest cruise ship - the Independence of the Seas, to be developed. The ship cost 800 million dollars to build, carries her passengers in unrivalled luxury and is manned by a crew of 1,360 who occupy a vast behind-the-scenes world of control rooms, kitchens and engine spaces. Longer than five jumbo jets and weighing more than 80,000 family cars, this episode explores how this gargantuan ship was made possible through a series of six historic engineering breakthroughs.
5. Tunnel This episode reveals the technological leaps forward that have allowed the world's longest Tunnel - the Gotthard Base Tunnel, to be built. The Gotthard Base Tunnel stretches 57 kilometres through the heart of the Swiss Alps. It is deeper than any other tunnel on Earth and paves the way for a vital high-speed rail link between Zurich and Milan. This episode follows 2,000 workers and four gigantic tunnel boring machines, working flat-out to excavate 24 million tonnes of mountain rock to complete the tunnel.
6. Telescope This episode reveals the technological leaps forward that have enabled the world's largest telescope - the Large Binocular Telescope, to be built. The telescope sits on a mountain in Arizona, over 3,000 metres above sea level. Like a giant pair of eyes, it stares up into the night sky. Equipped with two giant mirrors, it allows astronomers to see further into space than ever before. Capable of producing images of heavenly bodies with startling clarity, the LBT focuses its two giant mirrors on stars tens of millions of light years away from Earth.
7. Aircraft This episode reveals the technological leaps forward that have enabled the world's biggest cargo aircraft – the Antonov 124, to be developed. The Antonov stands as tall as a seven storey building, and has a wingspan so massive, you could park eight double-decker buses end to end on its wings with room to spare. Its cavernous cargo bay can hold 50 family-sized cars. The aircraft has carried everything from battle tanks to other aircraft to every corner of the world. This episode follows the Antonov team as they transport a huge train from Germany to India and also explores how the aircraft was made possible through a series of six historic engineering breakthroughs.
8. Oil Rig This episode reveals the technological leaps forward that have allowed the world's largest Oil Platform - the Perdido Spar in the Gulf of Mexico, to be built. The Perdido Spar sits in deeper water than any other oil platform, in an ocean over two kilometres deep. This floating factory is capable of drilling in any direction, and in depths of up to three kilometres below the sea floor. At maximum production it can generate enough oil daily to fill 132,000 cars with petrol.
9. Dome This episode reveals the technological leaps forward that have allowed the world's largest spanning dome - the Oita Stadium in Japan, to be built. The Oita's colossal roof spans a mighty 274 metres. A steel, Teflon and titanium structure over 270 metres across, and 60 metres high, the Oita Stadium roof covers a sports stadium big enough to seat 43 thousand spectators. At the flick of a switch its seats retract to reveal a running track and its roof opens and closes like a giant eye.
10. Skywheel This episode reveals the technological leaps forward that have enabled the world's largest observation wheel - the Singapore Flyer - to be built. The Singapore Flyer is the tallest observation wheel on Earth, rising 165 metres into the sky. It can whisk 1,260 passengers around hourly to see a stunning 45 km panorama of three different countries below. The film explores five landmark observation wheels - including the original Ferris Wheel and London Eye - that each feature a major technological innovation that contributed to the construction of the Singapore Flyer.