Thinking Tech

Miniatur Wunderland dazzles

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The Miniatur Wunderland (MW) is an alternative reality in miniature. As the world's largest model railroad or more accurately, simulated society, it i...

The Miniatur Wunderland (MW) is an alternative reality in miniature. As the world's largest model railroad or more accurately, simulated society, it is one of Germany's top tourist attractions with 1 million real visitors in 2008 and 4 million to its web site. In fact, it is so popular MW has a web page dedicated to mitigating wait times outside it's huge building in Hamburg.

Running this city of global community of 200,000 tiny inhabitants requires 40 computers operating from what looks like the ATC tower at JFK. MV switches from day to night every 15 minutes turning 300,000 LED lights on and off. The best way to get a feel for this marvel of hobbyist technology is to watch the four minute Youtube video below. I was blown away.

Besides 200,000 inhabitants and 300,000 LEDs, here's some other mind-boggling metrics I learned from the video whuich starts out: "In just a few moments, you go from Scandanavia over Germany to Austria to Switzerland right to distant America." No flying, either. I love it!

-The layout has 10 kilometers or 6.2 miles of track (not to be confused with Union Pacific. It has 8,400 miles).

- 800 trains and 10,000 cars. The longest is 14.5 meters or 46.57 feet.

-30,000 liters or 7,925 gallons of water to make up the North Sea complete with computer controlled ships

- At the end of 2009, MV is slated to open a large model airport, but it currently trying to overcome some technical diffculties. In the video, you can see a bus pulling up to an Airbus A340.

MV will reinforce the notion that German engineering is second to none. Indeed, the building of the airport is being developed with the following philosophy.

"We still hope to open the airport by the end of 2009. BUT: Like during the building phase of Switzerland we noticed that the result is even better if one desn't put pressure on oneself with a fixed deadline. If you are honest to yourself, there's no reason for that, either. We don't depend on deadlines but on the beauty of the result. So we take it as it comes.."

Enjoy!

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John Dodge

Contributing Editor

Contributing Editor John Dodge has written for the Wall Street Journal, Boston Globe, PC Week (now eWeek), EDN, Design News, Electronic Business, Bio-IT World, Health-IT World, Lowell Sun, Haverhill Gazette and Newburyport Daily News. He is based in Massachusetts. Follow him on Twitter. Disclosure