How High Can We Build?

Hey, Vsauce. Michael here. And when the pyramids
of Giza were built, the tallest was 147 meters tall, making them the tallest things humans
had ever built. And they remained that way for nearly 4,000 years. It wasn’t even until
the 1300’s that we finally got around to making something taller, a cathedral in England.
So, does that mean that the Great Pyramids of Giza are the “Best tallest structures of all time?” Well, to find out more, all aboard the BOAT. So, what is a building? Well, technically,
a building is a structure in which at least 50% of its height comes from floor plates
where people can live, work, chill out, it has to be habitable. Any less than that and
it’s not a building, it’s a tower. After the Lincoln Cathedral finally surpassed the height
of the pyramids, a number of churches continued to be built that kept breaking and setting
new records. The next long-term record holder was the Eiffel Tower.
It was the tallest thing, ever in history, that we had built, for about 40 years in a
row. It was finally surpassed by the Chrysler Building in New York, a personal favorite,
which was then quickly bested by the Empire State Building. Now, the Empire State Building
is interesting in that it was the first structure ever built by man that was so tall, were you
to jump off the top of it, you would actually reach terminal velocity before you hit the
bottom. It was the first structure we’d ever built that was so tall, rather than just continuing
to accelerate as you fell, you would actually stop accelerating because you would reach
the fastest possible speed your limp body can fall at. In the mid 1950’s, something
weird started to happen. Humans started to build radio and TV towers. These things could
be way taller than the buildings that we’d made previously that had to be habitable.
And so, ever since the Empire State Building had its record broken by a TV tower, all these
other famously tall buildings, the Petronas Towers, Tapei 101, the World Trade Center,
the Willis Tower – formerly Sears Tower – none of them have ever, within their existence,
actually held the title for being the tallest “thing” we’ve ever built. There was always
a radio or TV tower somewhere that was taller. Up until quite recently, and for quite a while,
the record for the tallest thing ever built by humans went to the Warsaw radio mast in
Poland. It’s visually incredibly striking, because there aren’t any other sky scrapers
around it. It’s all alone, being very tall. Well, that was until 1991, where some workers
exchanging guy-wires made a mistake and the whole thing started to bend and then snapped
in the middle. There’s no video of the event happening, but it would have been similar
to this collapse, though much, much taller. After the Warsaw radio mast collapsed, the
KVLY-TV mast in North Dakota became the tallest, still standing, structure built by man. But
recently, buildings have made a comeback. And to check that out, we’re going to have
to travel to the Middle East. This is the first time I’ve ever touched the Nile.
Tadaaa. Ok, so that was me dipping my waterproof camera into the Nile. If you were to take the entire length of the Nile River and stand
it up on its edge, perpendicular to the Earth, it would reach into outer space about this
far, which is pretty impressive. But where does the space shuttle orbit? And where does
the International Space Station orbit? This far away? This far away? Maybe this far away?
Actually, if this pink, inflatable “Horrible Bosses” ball was the Earth, the space shuttle
would orbit about right there. It’s incredible, but it’s possible because the shuttle, and
the International Space Station, travel so quickly. They travel so quickly around the
Earth that instead of seeing one sunrise and sunset every 24 hours, they see 16.
But don’t be jealous. You can easily see more than one sunrise and/or sunset in a day by
taking advantage of tall structures. So, let’s take a look at the tallest structure, the
current record holder for the tallest thing humans have ever built, the Burj Khalifa in
Dubai. The height of this building blows my mind. You can literally watch the sunset from
the base of the building, and then take a super-fast elevator all-the-way up to the
top and watch the same sun set again. In fact, the difference
in timing between sunset at the base and the top is so significant, the Dubai Islamic Affairs
department actually had to make a ruling about when you can start, and break, your fast during
Ramadan inside the building. People above floor 80 or higher have to actually wait to
start eating 2-3 minutes after the people at the base, because the sun hasn’t yet set
for those at the top. But before you head to Dubai to watch the sun rise or set twice
in a day, keep in mind that the only height you actually need to see two sunrises or sunsets
is the height of your own body. Try this the next time you’re at a beach.
Watch the sun rise or set over the water. Water is important because it won’t
have the terrain and hill issues that land does. Now let’s say you’re watching a sunset.
Begin by laying on your stomach. Watch the sun set and as soon as the very last little bit
of the sun goes below the horizon, quickly pop up into a standing position and voilá,
you’ll see the sun’s back – part of it’s back – and it will set another time. If you take a stopwatch and record the time
between the first setting and the second setting that you witness and measure the height
of your eyes when you’re laying down and when you’re standing, you can use those numbers
to calculate the radius of the Earth. XKCD took this a little bit further by proposing
the “Double Sunset Date.” Take your date out to the beach in a cherry picker and sure
enough, it was calculated, given the speed of a cherry picker, all you have to do is move
about 6 feet up and you can watch a beautiful sunset all over again. To put things in perspective, the Burj Khalifa
is nowhere near as tall as Mount Everest. But the tallest structure that we could potentially
build wouldn’t be as tall as Mount Everest, it would be way, way taller. Like, into space
taller. Of course, the problem with building things that are really tall is that they get
heavier and heavier and have to support their own weight. But only up to a point. If a structure was so tall that it wound up
at the altitude of a geostationary orbit, it would start to feel a new force, not just
a gravitational force downward, but all of the sudden this new, centrifugal force up and outward. And so, a building that tall could be stable
through tension. And more than 35,000 km high.
This kind if structure is known as a “Space Elevator.” Unfortunately, there aren’t any materials
known to science today that are strong enough to make building something that large feasable.
With the exception, maybe, of Carbon Nanotubes, or Boron-Nitrate Nanotubes. Of course, if
we went to a smaller celestial body, like the Moon, we could build one today out of
stuff like Kevlar. There are a lot of different things that we
have to be wary of when we build a space elevator. For instance, how do we dodge space debris?
One solution is to attach the Earth side of the cable to a boat in the ocean that can
maneuver around and move the elevator away from dangerous obstacles. Another interesting point is that the taller
the cable, the faster the far end of it will be traveling. In fact, if the cable is more
than 50,000 km long, its far end will be travelling near escape velocity and simply walking outside
could take you to the Moon. But why build a space elevator? Well, because it would be
awesome. But also for better reasons too. For instance, right now, in order to send
a pound of material into orbit, it costs about 11,000 dollars. But with a space elevator,
we could send the same amount of material into orbit for only about 100 bucks. That
difference is so significant that Philip Ragan has said that the first country to deploy
a space elevator will have a 95% cost advantage and will possibly be able to control all space
related activities. Alright, so here you see, in the mirror, Alex
playing guitar while she holds a camera in her mouth and records us. Impressive. I’m
here with Kristen from Barely Political. She’s visiting London and if you enjoyed this episode
of BOAT, check out other episodes, I’ve got them all up there. And as always, thanks for watching. Oh and check out Kristen’s channel right there. Bye! Bye.

Comments 99

  • How do Muslims fast on the Space Station if there are 16 sunrises/sunsets in a day?

  • Why don't you go get in your Star Trek ToS uniform and call Scotty to beam you up! You ideas will never fly – especially the space elevator. Move it around with a ship! What a joke. You're telling me you would have a huge ship with a crew sitting doing nothing for 364 days a year just to move it once? How about the storms that would be encountered let alone space junk. Don't you think this would make a cool terrorist target? You people with your Star Trek ideas need to come back and join the rest of us in reality!

  • The first 60 miles of it will have to be able to endure constant 100+ mph jet streams, and severe wind shear from various layers in the atmosphere.

  • Vsauce getting some coochie

  • Any country that would build that would have to have a basically a small army to protect it including air force because that would probably be the #1 thing and country or terrorist organizations would attack because it would make the biggest impact due to the extreme financial (and physical) resources it would take to construct one. Not to mention the fact that the amount of debris coming down from that thing falling would be spectacular, unless of course you got hit by some of it.

  • 1:46 geez I wonder how we found that out lol

  • Just Sauce, Raw Sauce

    No Vsauce

  • 256 dumb

  • Uh, 256 block limit… duhh

  • I. Gonna do what's called a pro gamer move

    Ps 256blocks bro

  • i touch denial everyday vsauce you're no prize


  • The Giants of Genesis 6 built those pyramids humans didn't!

  • What is the escape velocity from earth? you implied you have this info A few years ago I visited the NASA site and they reported it as 40,000 mph. Visiting their site more recently I could no longer find this info…IF this is not correct please post the correct value so we can get started on the space elevator.

  • Cant they just build it with giant magnets?

  • News Flash at 0:02 – The Great Pyramid of Giza in NOT measured in metrics, it is measured in Imperial Units—-The English Foot. In fact, the Great Pyramid measures the distance of the Sun to the Earth, the distance to the Moon, and the Earth's circumference in Imperial Units with extraordinary accuracy. Watch the documentary: Secrets in Plain Sight
    Start at the 1 hour 11 minutes 18 seconds spot and get ready to have your mind blown.
    The English Foot is a Universal Measurement and it not arbitrary!

  • What If you
    Wanted to go to heaven
    But God said
    Height limit for building is 256 blocks.

  • Nice.

  • We can only build 256 blocks up


  • Vsauce, great video 🙂 Could you please make a little adjustment here and add the hight in kms and miles for the geostationary orbit? And maybe what the effect of the centripetal force is on certain hights?
    Or can someone help out and give the numbers in a reply on this comment? Much appreciated 🙂

  • height limit is 256 blocks

  • Was there ever really THE TOWER OF BABEL that literally reached into HEAVEN or Earth's firmament that borders The VACUUM OF SPACE?

  • So what you are saying is, we can build a "Stairway To Heaven"?

  • I love your channel so much

  • Ask minecraft for the build limit

  • So, after factoring in the cost of the materials needed which as you said are unobtainable by man currently, how would that be more cost effective? Where are you getting these figures? You are making this up. Space elevator my ass.

  • 256 blocks 🤨

  • You know, I am more concerned about the teddy bear. Is he okay? Did he enjoy the Burj Khalifa?

  • duhh 256 blocks such a simple answer

  • About 256 blocks

  • Fantastic!

  • Ok, Ok… setting sun, rising sun.. twice… three times.. who the hell cares!!! WHAT ABOUT TALL BUILDING GODDAMMIT?

  • Me: Okay, I’m at the Burj Khalifa and now I’m gonna watch this sunrise and then go to the top of the building!
    goes into elevator
    Okay time to press level 3,241.

    20 minutes later

    Okay, I’m at the top aaaaannndd it’s night time

  • Japan:

  • No one:
    Literally no one:
    Ttvsweatylildefaultsplaying10hpursadayinfortnite: i can build to sky limit

  • the earth is spinning, A elevator would not be able to withstand the velocity.

  • I love to watch these hyper informative videos in the bedtime, makes me sleepy super fast.


  • This music is trash

  • 256 is the build height

  • max build limit is 256 meters

  • >How High Can We Build?
    Till we hit the Block limit. – Mr. Minecraft

  • Someone watched too much South Park 😛

  • 256 blocks is the height limit

  • This guy really likes his close ups.

  • Science and the addiction that it is, will end up turning this paradise into an industrial park.

  • u skipped over the cn tower, you fucking yankee!

  • Answer: 256 blocks

  • Vsauce,
    In 1968, my Dad, Lt.Col.William E. Haynes, USAF, was promoted to a desk in the Pentagon.
    Amoung his many duties, he suggested investigating a "Sky-Hook", the concept you just discussed here.
    Before he could finish explaining how the dynamics might be feasible, his superiors handed him a synopsis from the Russians who had investigated the same concept.
    So, Dad wrote a sci-fi novel called, you guessed it, SKYHOOK.

  • The earth is flat

  • 6:27 The first time math actually impressed me

  • lol. KVLY. I used to live there. That's Fargo, ND.

  • Lots of information here. Good
    Lots of information here that has nothing to do with video title… still good… but I want my meat n potatoes w/o veggies.
    Still thumbs up.

  • What if the space elevator malfunctions/breaks. If below escape velocity, all that debris would fall back Home.
    There would have to be disintegration technology built into the structure, I think. Anyone?
    With 14M subscribers… I don't think V will get back to me.

  • It's a shame god never told Mohammed if he goes to the north pole the sun doesn't set in the summer. Proving Islam is wrong and there isn't a god

  • This intro is so jumpscary and unnecessary. Please tell me they fixed this xD

  • auther c clark said that elevator thing right ?

  • Max build hieght is 256 blocks, dumbass

  • What about BIG BEN

  • Fucking annoying background music.

  • We all know the earth is a cube according to minecraft.

    Stop spreading lies.

  • It only cost that much to put a pound of something into space because we humans won't do anything for free

  • It's simple, you can only build 256 blocks

  • we can build till we hit the top.

  • Tower of babel time (*-*)/

  • Its sooo cringy when people call the Sears Tower the "Willis Tower". Ummm, gross, nobody does that in Chicago and their name expires soon thank God.

  • The Middle East: the only place where governmental religious law dictates your eating habits since the fourteenth century.

  • But who would be brave enough to go up in a space elevator, knowing that the possibility exists of something going cataclysmically wrong and hurtling you back to earth with a fall long enough that you could actually write a simple will on the way down and even call your lawyer to have it notarized??? 😮

  • A new building is being built that will he higher than Burj Khalifa

  • Max hight is 240 blocks

  • 256 blockd high

  • Retarded loud music

  • Sooooooooo, gonna collect cosmic charge difference at the top and won't expect a truly vicious lightning strike from orbit? " Shut it down boys, these folks are trying to get us atomized."
    That said, if the whole structure didn't vaporize when it reached a critical height to somewhat "ground out", could rig a collection apparatus of some as well. I still see huge electrical explosion tho.

  • This is all wrong

  • so much for the the flat earthers arguement.

  • 256 blocks. THE SKY IS THE LIMIT!

  • A year ago, when i was bored, I was watching the sunset, it was gone, i was on my tippy toes, then I went to the top of the couch to watch it for a third time.

  • Can only hope that space elevator doesn't pull a warsaw radio mast and flat-line…

  • First off human's didn't build the pyramids.

  • Walking outside could take you to the moon? What do you mean??

  • I allready know the answer 😌
    256 blocks

  • Nobody:
    "Get in the B.O.A.T."!

  • So what's the answer?

  • Even if we have the material strong enough for building that can hold it's own weight and tension, you couldn't built it from Earth ground level upwards. Because how can it go up hundreds of miles while gravity is pulling on it. The only way I see technically feasible, would be from Geo Stationary position.
    Imagine a cable that is 72,000 km long. The wound-up roll would be placed dead center of the cable and then the cable would be rolled up in such a way that it starts from the center of the cable where the ends of the cable are rolled up last.

    This humongous large roll would have to be brought to the Geo Stationary orbit, from where it is slowly unrolled with one end pointing to Earth and to other end 180 degrees towards space. This way you maintain the balance with the Geo Stationary position as it balance center. Once it is completely rolled out, one end will be touching Earth while the other end is 72,000 km straight up.
    There are however a couple of practical problems that are hard – if not impossible – to overcome.
    1) The end that touches Earth would work perfectly if there was no atmosphere, or in other words; wind. Assuming the cable is attached to Earth at a fixed position, wind will push on the cable into a certain direction. The other end that is in space, will try to maintain it's position, so what happens is that the cable is being curved downwards towards the surface of the Earth. The center of the cable is now lower than the Geo Stationary position, therefore no longer in balance, and the whole cable comes falling down increasing it's speed to probably over a 1,000 km/h and will spread over a large area, I'm talking the size of a large country.
    The other thing that could happen is that the cable comes down and slams like a whip around the globe, destroying anything it encounters. The outer space end would require some form of compensation, like rolling out extra cable (with a weight attached).
    But you would still have a curved cable at Earth surface because of the wind. The compensation mechanism would have to be so complex and thus heavy, it would make it impractical to build on Earth. The Moon would be a perfect place to do so, but the benefits are way lower than the cost.
    2) Even if the swaying of the cable is somehow compensated, there is the practical problem of lifting cargo to the Geo Stationary position. If we take a cargo plus lift mechanism that is together only 1 Kg. That is two pounds of sugar. The cable might be able to hold the additional 1 Kg, but the moment it starts moving upwards, it is actually pulling on the cable with a constant force and thus increasing the force of Gravity. Gravity pulls with almost 10m/s squared. If the 1 Kg weight is moving upwards with say 10m/s, it would increase the pull, and would eventually pull down the cable back to earth. Another compensating mechanism has to be incorporated. It would take 1,000 hours to bring up 1 Kg to the Stationary Earth position. Not very practical.
    Imagine increasing the weight and speed…
    I bet that in the end, a cable such as this would cost more than frequent space launches.
    Plus: if something goes wrong with the cable, practically the whole planet would be affected. If a rocket going into space explodes, it would kill the crew and destroys the cargo. Which is less worse?

  • Biggie small was wrong

    The sky is not the limit

  • The build limit from tilted towers is 90 metal walls high actually.

  • Can you even breath om the top of the tower in dubai?

  • Some constructive feedback. You didn't begin to answer the question "how high can we build" until about the 7:15 mark, or 3/4 of the way through the video. The history lesson was interesting and all but not relevant. Some of us came here curious to learn about the current state of engineering and material sciences and what might be on the horizon.

  • So how the fuck tall can we build… I hate videos that talk on and on to answer a 30 second question.

  • The spires of these towers and skyscrapers should be thrown out of the equation seeing how it's not part of the building and don't have an obvious reason to exist. Hell i could hold a 20 foot piece of stick and say i'm the tallest man alive.

    It does not necessarily add to the structural integrity of the main building. It actually detracts from the structural integrity of the structure since anything permanently attached to the structure becomes part of the seismic weight during an earthquake, which results in higher lateral forces on the building.

    So this video should be called “Height to the Highest Occupied Floor – that is the finished floor level of the highest occupiable floor within the building.”

  • I love how he had to explain terminal velocity 😂

  • Nature has built stars the size of the inner solar system. Not a problem.

  • bro u can only build to 256 bro

  • Well, the great pyramid of Giza,is about 30.000yrs old already mister! Build by Thoth far before the last cataclysm, whom wrote the green emerald tablets, in which he mentioned this too. And by the way, the Bosnian pyramid, the ones in Antarctica, and the Pyramid in Gunung Padang are even taller then the great Pyramid of Giza (and might be even older!!)

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