London’s Big Ben is Leaning (But the Tower of Pisa DID IT FIRST!!)

Hmmm, something doesn’t quite look right……….

Okay boys and girls, I got a short little history lesson for you:

The Leaning Tower of Pisa tilts due to a fundamental error made by its builders.  During the construction process, the tower’s foundation that was created wasn’t that much wider than the diameter of the tower itself.  The 12th century local engineers focused an excessive amount of weight in a fairly small area of soft soil, and in the past 700 years, that same soil has since settled unevenly under the tower’s weight, resulting in its current leaning state.

Now, why did I bring this up?  Well, it’s kind of obvious that the above picture is not of the Leaning Tower of Pisa, but of Big Ben in London, designed by Augustus Pugin (finished in 1859), built of bricks and limestone cladding, a cast iron framed spire, sitting on a 9.8-feet thick 49-foot square concrete foundation, and 334 limestone stairs connecting the ground floor to the top of the tower.  This 315-foot high clock tower is ALSO currently, and visibly, leaning (not quite like the picture though; but it got your attention, right?).  As of now, the clock tower is leaning with an inclination of over 1 1/2 feet at its highest point, and unfortunately, the situation is becoming worse.  Big Ben’s keepers say that they have been monitoring the tilting since 1999, and according to their research and statistics, the inclination has been increasing faster since 2003.  At one time, Big Ben was tilting at an average of 0.65 millimeters a year, and now the rate increased to 0.9 millimeters a year.

Despite these statistics and issues, the keepers of Big Ben believe that it won’t be a problem any time soon, as their resident experts claims that “it will be between 4,000 and 10,000 years before it becomes a problem.”  The keepers are also unsure as to what is exactly behind the accelerated inclination, as they say that there is “no real proof what has caused it,” but some believe the extension of Jubilee Line of London’s subway (you know, the one going DIRECTLY UNDERNEATH the Parliament building), as well as the clay ground around the foundation that is drying up and assisting in accelerating the angle of the tilting.  Does that last sentence sound a little familiar to you?

Also, did you like how I linked that last paragraph of theories to the history lesson in the first paragraph?  Yeah, I knew you would.

[Thanks to BBC News, Reuters (which I just recently learned how to properly pronounce), and Gizmodo for the image]

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