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The 18 Most Powerful Things on the Planet

Popular Mechanics Logo By Popular Mechanics Editors of Popular Mechanics | Slide 1 of 19: It weighs almost 800,000 pounds—and that's empty. Fully loaded, the BelAZ 75710 dump truck approaches 2 million. It's 32 feet wide and 67 feet long, which means it'd be a tight squeeze to fit on a standard tennis court (and an even tighter squeeze into tennis whites), and 26 feet tall. To power such a beast requires twin 2,300-hp diesel generators. Like its slightly smaller cousins—400-ton-capacity trucks made by Caterpillar, Bucyrus, and Liebherr—the BelAZ lives and works in giant open-pit mines.Unfortunately, because it's made in Belarus, home to one of the most repressive governments on the planet, it's hard to get anyone to talk about the 75710 in plain English, or even plain Belarusian. And you can't see one unless you travel to Siberia. The only user at the moment is a Russian coal company. But in a sense, every giant dump truck shares the same story: As the human population boomed in the 20th century, we demanded more and more of the world's geologic resources—coal, metals, and the rock itself. To transport these efficiently, bigger and bigger trucks were needed. The 100-ton barrier was broken in the 1950s; 200- and 300-class trucks followed. In 1999, Caterpillar broke the 400-ton barrier with its massive 797F. The 500-ton BelAZ, like much else that came out of the Soviet bloc, is the product of an arms race.Curiously, the BelAZ may be the last salvo in that race. One reason is economics: Mining firms are obsessive about efficiency, and improvements in reliability, durability, and performance are returning the edge to earlier, smaller trucks. Another is more practical: rubber. Nobody has found a way to make tires that can handle bigger loads. —Tim Heffernan Horsepower: 4,600Weight (Empty): 400 tonsWeight (Loaded): 900 tons

The 18 Most Powerful Things on the Planet

Bigfoot. The blue whale. The muscle car. Power is about more than just numbers, but the most powerful cars, trucks, bikes, and machines in the world can put up numbers that'll blow your mind.

© Ian Allen

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