Engineering Connections

NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC – Tuesday 5 January, 7.30pm

Richard Hammond unpicks the engineering DNA of the mighty aircraft carrier HMS Illustrious. A potent force with a powerful punch, this aircraft carrier can deliver a strike force anywhere on the globe at any time. It’s a floating airport, city and battleship all rolled into one. But what connects this indomitable vessel with a boomerang, a hearing aid, a 19th century seed drill, London’s Tower Bridge and the space race?

NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC – Tuesday 29 December, 7.30pm

Richard Hammond visits a building described as the ‘greatest of our time’: the Guggenheim Museum, Bilbao. He is in search of the construction secrets that made this iconic Spanish building possible. He finds out how the visionary architect Frank Gehry transformed a decaying city into a vibrant tourist hub with his futuristic building. But it would not have been possible without a volcano, an egg, Sir Walter Raleigh, a surveyor’s trundle wheel and a Cold War Russian submarine.

NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC – Tuesday 22 December, 7.30pm

Richard Hammond reveals the startling construction secrets behind Hong Kong International Airport, one of the busiest and biggest in the world, sited on a specially constructed island. Then the world’s largest construction project it drew inspiration from a 13th Century Arab irrigation machine to create new land, and a WWII bomber and car suspension to make the terminal building light, airy and typhoon-proof. To reduce lost baggage designers turned to a bizarre Cold War spy device and a brass band was the proof of a crucial scientific principle which protects pilots from wind shear, all resulting in the new gateway to Asia.

NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC – Tuesday 15 December, 7.30pm

Richard Hammond reveals the engineering inspirations behind the tallest road bridge in the world: the Millau Viaduct in France. He fires three quarters of a million volts from his fingertips to see how the power of lightning cut the steel structure quickly and accurately. The huge piers – which would look down on the Eiffel Tower from their 340 metre height – were positioned to millimetre accuracy with the system that located lost nuclear submarines. The longest road-deck in the world was launched along the top of the piers and required the slipperiest substance known to man, Teflon; not even a gecko can stick to it. Steel cables hold the bridge in shape, born of a series of mining accidents. And to allow the bridge to expand a metre and a half in the summer sun the engineers turned to an ancient Celtic boat-building technique which can make concrete as bendy as wood.

NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC – Tuesday 8 December, 7.30pm

Richard Hammond stands atop the Wembley roof, in front of its record-breaking arch to discover the construction secrets behind the new high tech home of English football. He reveals how the architects and engineers, under pressure to maintain Wembley’s iconic status as a world class sporting and music venue, drew inspiration from a rock climbing knot, the first glider to carry a man, a high powered medieval crossbow, stealth aircraft technology and Archimedes’ buoyancy theory that surfaced over two thousand years ago.

NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC – Tuesday 23 September, 10:30pm

Richard Hammond delves into the startling Engineering Connections behind the Keck Observatory – which has seen further into the universe than any other telescope on Earth. He reveals the Keck Observatory owes its incredible design to an Ancient Greek ritual, an early Twentieth Century Russian inventor, an American Civil War General, a break-through in aerial reconnaissance and an attempt to cure Yellow Fever. Hidden in its DNA he finds an ancient technique for lighting a flame, a weird sounding musical instrument, a sand blaster, a Korean spy plane and a refrigerator.

NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC – Tuesday 16 September, 10.30pm

Richard Hammond travels to Taipei and discovers the secrets of one of the world’s tallest buildings: Taipei 101. This modern marvel of engineering stands at a jaw dropping 1,671 feet. Built right next to a seismic fault line and in a typhoon hotspot, its height is all the more impressive. Richard discovers just what it is in the Taipei 101’s DNA, that allows it be so tall and cope with these extreme natural events. As well as what all this cutting edge engineering has in common with a bird cage, bamboo, racing yachts, sports cars and seat belts. Richard embarks on a fantastic journey of discovery that will take him from the mines of 18th century England via the early skyscrapers of Chicago to the top of one of the most advanced buildings in the world.

NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC – Tuesday 9 September, 10.30pm

Richard Hammond journeys to discover the startling Engineering Connections behind the Troll A gas platform; the largest object ever moved by man across the surface of the Earth. During his voyage he reveals that Troll A owes its incredible design to a 19th Century French gardener, a 17th Century German mayor, a midwestern American architect and the dawn of the motor industry. Hidden in its DNA he finds a crystal glass, a farm building, a racing car, a plant pot and nothing!