Link #42: The Eiffel Tower Grows in Summer!


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Link #42: The Eiffel Tower Grows in Summer!

Eiffel Tower
The Eiffel Tower. Image credit: Nicolas Lannuzel cc2.0

Mankind’s growth is almost always connected to the strength of the materials that it uses. Consider the fact that the biggest leaps in humanity’s development came in ages that have been named after the most popular substances of the period, such as Bronze and Iron.

Right now, the strongest substance we know of is carbon nanotubes, as we described in our previous post, but there was a time when we didn’t know of anything stronger than steel.

This was the time the Eiffel Tower was built. The Eiffel Tower has grown to become a symbol of the idea of romance, but did you know that it grows and shrinks on the basis of changing climates?

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Does the Eiffel Tower Grow In Summer and Shrink In Winter?

Eiffel Tower_Wide
Image credit: gckwolfe cc2.0

It is true. The Eiffel Tower, indeed, grows in length in summer and shrinks in winter. The reason the Eiffel Tower’s length is dependent on changing seasons is that when seasons change, the temperature around the monument changes too.

The variation in the length of the Eiffel Tower depends entirely on the variation in the temperature around it. However, the maximum that the Eiffel Tower can grow or shrink is about six inches. So, now that you know that the Eiffel Tower changes height at different times, you’re most probably wondering how this happens.

Why Does the Eiffel Tower Grow in Summer and Shrink in Winter?

Expansion joint in a road bridge used to avoid damage from thermal expansion.  Photo taken by CrazyD GFDL
Expansion joint in a road bridge used to avoid damage from thermal expansion. Photo taken by CrazyD GFDL

The Eiffel Tower is made up of steel which is a metal. All types of metal have the property of expanding and contracting when temperature changes occur. This characteristic varies in degrees from one type of metal to another.

This means that different types of metals expand and contract to different degrees at different temperatures. Effectively, when the temperature reaches the threshold level of the specific type of steel used in the construction of the Eiffel Tower, it expands. The contraction happens when the temperature drops below the threshold level of the steel that makes up the Eiffel Tower.

This characteristic of metals is taken into account every time we use metal in construction. For instance, did you know that many engineers leave gaps between one portion of a road bridge and another to give the metal space to expand and contract? If this space wasn’t provided then the pressure created by the expansion of metal would end up warping the road bridge.

Other Interesting Facts about the Eiffel Tower

The Eiffel Tower has been a symbol of the marvels that humanity is capable of creating. Every year it plays host to millions of people who come to view Paris from its summit. It boasts a salon on top as well as a high-end restaurant within its structure. Till now, it’s estimated that the Eiffel Tower has seen more than 200 million people.

The most interesting fact about the Eiffel Tower was that it wasn’t meant to be permanent. In fact, it was meant to be built in Barcelona in 1889 for the Universal Exposition.

The Eiffel Tower, in fact, was the tallest structure in the world for almost half a century between 1889 and 1930. It was toppled off its lofty position by the Chrysler Building in New York.

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