My colleagues and I were having lunch whilst the TV screens were showing the BBC news one day last week.  The news was coming in about an explosion in a furnace at a nucler installation in the South of France.  The news reader may well have said ‘at a nucear power plant’ but I can’t verify that.  I and my colleagues immediately thought ‘Why would there be a furnace at a nucler power plant?’.  All the non-engineers this bulletin would probably have been thinking either  ‘Surely not another accident at these dangerous nuclear facilities; is it another Fukushima?’ or ‘Nuclear + accident just conforms my view that these things are just too dangerous’.

Those bothering to follow the story like myself and my colleagues soon discovered that our bewiderment was significant.  This was an incident at a facility melting down irradiated metal from a nuclear power plant;  so called low level waste.   The heat needed to melt the metal was being supplied by a furnace using a conventional fuel and there had been a explosion in the conventional furnace as can happen anywhere there is a furnace.  There was very little chance of a leak of dangerous material and the amount that could escape was also small.

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What is our perception of a bridge? We have seen bridges being designed to cross motorways, rivers, and valleys, etc, but mostly to carry the people and vehicles from one side of the obstacle to the other. These are occasionally designed to carry small water channels (known as acqueducts). However, Magdeburg water bridge in Germany have really crossed the boundaries of conventional bridges by connecting a massive canal over Elbe river. It is the longest navigatable aqueduct in the world, with a total length of 918m.

http://www.toxel.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/06/bridge09.jpg

As seen in the pictures, it carries not only the water but also quite heavy boats over the river. Before the bridge was constructed in 2003, the Ships moving from one side to the other side across the river had to make a 12-kilometre (7.5 mi) detour , because the level difference between the two was significantly different.  This massive structure was built using 24,000 metric tons of steel and 68,000 cubic meters of concrete and costs at around €500M.

http://en.structurae.de/files/photos/1/20090519/dsc04580.jpg

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