What Really Happened at the Arecibo Telescope?

  • On the morning of December 1st, 2020, one of the most iconic astronomical instruments in the world collapsed. The Arecibo Telescope was not only one of the largest radio telescopes in the world, it was also a fascinating problem in structural engineering. Its loss was felt across the world. This video provides a quick lesson on radio telescopes, a summary of the failure, and some discussion about the engineering lessons learned in the wake of the event. I hope that eventually, they can replace the telescope with an instrument as futuristic and forward-looking as the Arecibo telescope was when first conceived. It was an ambitious and inspiring structure, and we sure will miss it.
    Practical Engineering is a FLash-player channel about infrastructure and the human-made world around us. It is hosted, written, and produced by Grady Hillhouse. We have new videos posted regularly, so please subscribe for updates. If you enjoyed the video, hit that โ€˜likeโ€™ button, give us a comment, or watch another of our videos!
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    This is not engineering advice. Everything here is for informational and entertainment purposes only. Contact an engineer licensed to practice in your area if you need professional advice or services. All non-licensed clips used for fair use commentary, criticism, and educational purposes.
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    Source: www.youtube.com/watch?v=U6fBP...
    Producer/Writer/Host: Grady Hillhouse
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Comments • 5 944

  • Practical Engineering
    Practical Engineering  14 days ago +502

    ๐Ÿšง When was the first time you heard of Arecibo?
    ๐Ÿ‘ท Check out my coverage of other engineering events: flash-player.org/pl/PLTZM4MrZKfW_kLNg2HZxzCBEF-2AuR_vP.html

      PHILIP BENN 58 minutes ago

      ๐Ÿ‘๐ŸพI heard about it several years before itZ CAMEO in the BOND FLICKโ—๏ธ๐Ÿ”ฅ๐Ÿ‘€

    • Qtank009
      Qtank009 3 hours ago

      Bf4 ๐Ÿคฃ

    • Katherine Chase
      Katherine Chase 15 hours ago

      90s X Files geekery

    • Brian Favorite
      Brian Favorite Day ago

      Golden eye

    • Jay Dawg
      Jay Dawg Day ago

      Carl Sagan ... back in the 1980s ....

  • stephen lagasse
    stephen lagasse Minute ago

    Is this the same from the movie cable guy? Looks so much like it

  • Sir. Lags
    Sir. Lags 22 minutes ago

    I only knew about this from watching James Bond

  • Aloysius Kurnia
    Aloysius Kurnia 44 minutes ago

    Seeing giant scientific instruments fail made me fear the LHC failing

  • Ncrypt Chon1
    Ncrypt Chon1 50 minutes ago

    Yeah, that really really sucked when this happened. Obviously maintenance wasn't an issue . Poor very poor. Couldn't have been that important someone missed the breaking point. He//they need to be fired. Period.

  • Justin Thorsson
    Justin Thorsson 52 minutes ago

    Its a shame to see this go like this! Will they build another?

  • ckinguF wgleeJ
    ckinguF wgleeJ Hour ago


  • Lagranarob -
    Lagranarob - Hour ago

    Bond finally destroyed Goldeneye.

  • Alex Beran
    Alex Beran 2 hours ago

    Battlefield 4 levolution

  • Stonee_bmx _
    Stonee_bmx _ 2 hours ago

    I'll tell you what happened. A guy got into a fight with his cable guy

  • Peter Richardson
    Peter Richardson 2 hours ago

    This was really informative. Had no idea this is how it happened. The news reports made it seem like it was all a surprise. Thanks for walking through this so well. Appreciate it. Likely the DoD when they made it didn't think it'd be around 60 years and didn't build it with that in mind.

  • Courtney C
    Courtney C 3 hours ago

    I didn't know there was a second one of these on the plant. James Bond took out the other one in Cuba back in the 90's while saving the plant from a Soviet cold was weapon code-named Goldeneye

  • Rajay Don
    Rajay Don 3 hours ago

    hey thats on my favorite bf4 map

  • Zupoyo
    Zupoyo 3 hours ago

    Naw probably just china

  • Evan Rainey
    Evan Rainey 3 hours ago

    Battlefield 4, is that you?

  • Neil Dunham II
    Neil Dunham II 3 hours ago


  • P Man
    P Man 4 hours ago

    Nibiru...is the reason it failed!

  • BH Prototyping
    BH Prototyping 5 hours ago

    I mean i was a terrible thing that it failed, but it also means we can use the information we have gathered from it and work to build a new better more reliable one. The fact that no one was hurt was the best outcome of this.

  • Chaos Joerg
    Chaos Joerg 6 hours ago

    An amteur with an untrained eye could see this isn't the way to do it but those engineers knew better.

  • Pond
    Pond 7 hours ago

    James Bond was waaay ahead in destroying this

  • spalje vina
    spalje vina 7 hours ago

    another thing people dont usualy know is radio telescop resoution is actually 1x1 pixel. so if you want a picture of radio sky, you have to move telescope.

  • Vin D
    Vin D 10 hours ago

    Arecibo 2. Letโ€™s go.

  • Ray MM
    Ray MM 13 hours ago

    They use cables thats why

  • 10-E Productions
    10-E Productions 13 hours ago

    I am glad I had gotten to show my family Arecibo before Irma hit. It was always one of my favourite spots to visit when we went to Puerto Rico to see family.
    My kids loved it, and my wife thought it was cool. I always thought it was awesome that James Bond used it for Golden Eye.

    • 10-E Productions
      10-E Productions 13 hours ago

      I actually heard it on that day, due to many of my family members posting it on FB. It was very much in the News on the Island of Puerto Rico. Sadly, not much in mainland USA.

  • havolli _
    havolli _ 14 hours ago

    Its just levolution

  • luis rivera
    luis rivera 14 hours ago

    In Puerto Rico losing cellphone signals are an everyday problem at different elevations, so maybe a G5 satellite can take its place...

  • Andrew Williams
    Andrew Williams 14 hours ago

    Leaked bf2042 footage

  • Lucas Noth
    Lucas Noth 15 hours ago

    My company is one of the companies hired to clean it up. D.H. Griffin

  • Wes
    Wes 15 hours ago +1

    I bet they had the BEST Satellite TV Reception in the World !

  • Chris M
    Chris M 15 hours ago

    I was horribly saddened when I found out this happened... Such a shame. Hopefully, they can make another one (with more advanced technology).

  • howtobebasic 2
    howtobebasic 2 16 hours ago

    Battlefield 4 caused it to collapse

  • Explicit Reverberation
    Explicit Reverberation 17 hours ago

    Make stupid designs , get horrific results. Eh Florida?

  • Jose Sanchez
    Jose Sanchez 17 hours ago

    Global warming, white supremacy and misagyny

  • Ninja k
    Ninja k 17 hours ago

    For England James...for England.

  • indio taino
    indio taino 18 hours ago +1

    TOTAL NEGLECT, NOTHING ELSE, anybody says different, they are full of it.

  • Duramax Daily
    Duramax Daily 19 hours ago

    I like how all you have to do is watch the first second and you can see what happens, it was a good cut but still a little to early for clickbait.

  • Jaby Chador
    Jaby Chador 21 hour ago

    Humans want to be god and know everything,thats why it fell.pretending god and try to change science.

  • French Fries
    French Fries 22 hours ago

    Thats from 007, you kids nowadays wouldnt know

  • G M
    G M 22 hours ago

    Just a result of the collapse of the American empire and the rise of China

  • Marine Comm
    Marine Comm 22 hours ago

    I wonder if those tiedowns caused significant extra force, along with the inadequate manufacturing of the cable ends to cause the untimely failure.

  • cncua
    cncua 23 hours ago

    The beauty not the structure which collapsed, but the HD video of collapse process recorded.
    21st century...

  • juliusvalentinas

    Should have hired some Russians to do the work. But firemen in Germany also watch how a house burns down rather then do their work.

  • SilverDiamond
    SilverDiamond Day ago

    Material stress. How long has the object been operating without ANY maintenance? Has cables been EVER replaced?

  • Tony Harknett
    Tony Harknett Day ago

    Entropy & Decay resulted in cascade failure of the remaining aged cables after the storms. Looks like a cable replacement plan was needed if need & capital was still in place for the device otherwise it was left to rot? Beying high cost maintenance with redundant functional need. (Basically it was old & neglected)

  • MattOnAMoto
    MattOnAMoto Day ago

    Already seen this years ago on battlefield 4

  • gwheyduke
    gwheyduke Day ago

    A great cause for some crowd sourcing funds to restore it.

  • JuxiBomb
    JuxiBomb Day ago

    Wait this looks like the battlefield map event

  • MarsBlut53
    MarsBlut53 Day ago

    It fell apart, because half of the enemy team was camping on it

  • Lesbians love men and it's TRUE.

    BF4 may preserve your history.

  • Kenneth Wong
    Kenneth Wong Day ago

    Yeah I know all about this. I played Battlefield 4

  • Andres Garcia
    Andres Garcia Day ago

    Great video

  • xXNo.1 GamingXx
    xXNo.1 GamingXx Day ago

    Must have been a rogue transmission

  • Marley Mo
    Marley Mo Day ago

    Looks like it was ready for the Battlefield trailer. BF4 Rogue Transmission pt. 2?

  • Tom Collier
    Tom Collier Day ago

    Wasn't that the one that proved the big bang theory wrong?

  • Madmaximus
    Madmaximus Day ago

    it fell. thankyou for coming to my TED talk

  • Alex Cartwright
    Alex Cartwright Day ago

    The tip of the antenna landed right in 006 mouth


    they should recycle all the brass casings from the battles over the years, be worth millions

  • Henry White
    Henry White Day ago +3

    That drone footage should be part of horror movie night at every engineering school on the planet.

  • svartvist
    svartvist Day ago

    Like my knee and finger joints, it got old and suffered from arthritis.

  • Phrank Cinatra
    Phrank Cinatra Day ago

    constructive criticism: cover that window behind you so your background isn't so bright, currently its pretty blinding.

  • checkthecoding
    checkthecoding Day ago

    Thanks Grady for another fascinating and revelatory report.

  • Green Nights
    Green Nights Day ago

    you had a moving unstable structure :: Every storm, even operating it, caused metal fatigue at the stress point, the weak point in the design, which a more solid tripod would solve.

  • David Quinn
    David Quinn Day ago

    The fraying cables were known months in advance. I read on the news "it's going to fail!" I wondered "why don't they repair the cables?" It could have been done for under $1 million for sure, it was a simple job of replacing them one at a time. All the stuff about the catenary modeling is nice, but an adjustable mount could have been used and then everything gradually tightened up too. There were surely several ways to do it, if we had only DONE IT.
    But we let it go, which was intentional self-destruction. Not the first time we've done that in recent history. I guess China was supposed to have the only good one, so we "stepped aside". Yes I did understand the video. I am an engineer.

    • Justin Smith
      Justin Smith Day ago

      So you're saying that you would gladly risk your life and the lives of others just for a piece of equipment? I sincerely hope that you do not hold any sort of management position because your mentality will get people killed.

  • GatorCreeper
    GatorCreeper Day ago

    The engineers clearly weren't Battlefield 4 players ๐Ÿ˜

  • George Will
    George Will Day ago


  • George Will
    George Will Day ago

    Great video and explanation of things- thank you.

  • Gvwyvof X Rihho
    Gvwyvof X Rihho Day ago

    Dude be writing papers on broken cables. Lol just fix it or take it down instead of letting it hang on the remaining cables.

  • Star Gazer
    Star Gazer Day ago +1

    I really wish youtube had a filter to remove all the battlefield 4 references in the comments.

  • yonD
    yonD Day ago +1

    **The Arecibo telescope collapses**
    The whole world: Oh no...
    Battlefield 4 players: _First time?_

  • Johnny Floyd
    Johnny Floyd Day ago

    It is already incredible that such a futuristic design built almost 60 years ago without today's knowledge and computing power has held till now and was still in usage few years ago.