Lecture 3 – Why mountains are so small

In 2009 the world's tallest building the Burj Khalifa was opened in Dubai; at almost half a mile high it is an engineering marvel. But will future generations think it puny and laugh at us? Could we build a tower to reach the moon?

In his third lecture Mark Miodownik asks whether this engineering challenge is remotely possible and show that one of the major hurdles is the force that keeps space together – gravity.

The curious way that gravity affects large things is nothing to the effect that time has on them. Not just a few years, or even decades but eons of time. Could this explain why Earth's mountains are small fry compared to other mountains in the universe?

Mark Miodownik explains why the Earth’s gravity, mantle and atmosphere mean our mountains won’t grow any higher and how sometimes the process of erosion can outstrip geology. 

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Copyright

© Royal Institution / Windfall Films

Year

2010

Lecturer

Mark Miodownik

Duration

59:08

All lectures in the series