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What is the Largest Machine in the World?

Michael Anissimov
Updated May 21, 2024
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The largest machine in the world is the Large Hadron Collider, a particle accelerator near Geneva, Switzerland. It has a circumference of 27 km (17 mi). If the Superconducting Super Collider in Waxahachie, Texas, hadn't been canceled in 1993, that would be the world's largest machine, as it had a planned circumference of 87.1 km (54 mi). The Large Hadron Collider is capable of accelerating protons or heavy ions up to 99.9999991% the speed of light, achieving a collision energy of 14 TeV (tera-electron-volts). 14 TeV is about 14 times the energy of a flying mosquito, but packed into a single proton, which is about 1021, or ten trillion billion times less massive than a mosquito.

Despite their very large size, the Large Hadron Collider and other huge particle accelerators are essentially one-dimensional, running around in a relatively thin loop. The largest machine that has a length, width, and height with similar values is the Overburden Conveyor Bridge F60 in Lichterfeld, Germany. This machine is 505 m (1,656 ft) long, 202 m (663 ft) wide, and 80 m (262 ft) high, with a weight of 11,000 tonnes. Built in East Germany by VEB TAKRAF Lauchhammer, the Conveyor Bridge is larger than the Eiffel Tower standing on its side, but was shut down after only 13 months of operation for energy-political reasons. The Overburden Conveyor Bridge is the world's largest machine that can move, but it can only move short distances along its dedicated train tracks.

The Knock Nevis, the world's largest supertanker, is the largest machine that can move long distances. This supertanker is 458 m (1,504 ft) long, 69 m (226 ft) wide, and 30 m (100 ft) tall, with a deadweight (max weight) of 564,763 tonnes, or half a megatonne. This ship operated from 1979 to 2004, now used simply as a floating storage and offloading unit. The ship has such a large draft (portion below the water) that it was incapable of traversing the English Channel. The Knock Nevis would be the world's fourth largest skyscraper if it were a tower.

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Michael Anissimov
By Michael Anissimov
Michael Anissimov is a dedicated All The Science contributor and brings his expertise in paleontology, physics, biology, astronomy, chemistry, and futurism to his articles. An avid blogger, Michael is deeply passionate about stem cell research, regenerative medicine, and life extension therapies. His professional experience includes work with the Methuselah Foundation, Singularity Institute for Artificial Intelligence, and Lifeboat Foundation, further showcasing his commitment to scientific advancement.
Discussion Comments
By Laotionne — On Oct 13, 2014

Of course there are plenty of machines that are far bigger than airplanes, but I think airplanes are some of the most remarkable machines on earth. I am still amazed at how machines as large as commercial airliners are can get off the ground and safely carry people half way around the world in some cases.

I guess a space shuttle would also fall into this category, but I have never ridden on a space shuttle, so I don't have any first-hand knowledge about them. However, I must say they are even more impressive in how far they are able to travel.

By mobilian33 — On Oct 12, 2014

Some of the biggest machines I have seen are the ones I saw in the mills when I used to work in them. I once worked in a cloth printing mill and the screen printing machine stretched from one end of the work floor to the other and that was about half the size of a football field.

You would sew on a roll of blank cloth at one end of the machine and then it would come out of the oven on the other end printed and ready to be processed for sell. Industrial machines in general can be very large, and dangerous.

By Drentel — On Oct 11, 2014

In the last paragraph, this article talks about the size of the world's largest supertanker, the Knock Nevis. This reminds me of a time when I was on vacation. We were at the beach and staying in a hotel that was located on a hill, and from the hill you could see out into the bay.

One day when I left my room I looked out toward the water and there was the biggest ship I had ever seen anchored out there in the bay. The ship was so big that it looked too big for the size of the bay. It didn't even look real. I don't know exactly what type of vessel it was, but I think it was a military ship. It was humongous, and the largest moving machine I have ever seen.

Michael Anissimov
Michael Anissimov
Michael Anissimov is a dedicated All The Science contributor and brings his expertise in paleontology, physics, biology...
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