Welcome to the Bird’s Nest

PopSci takes a look inside Beijing's Olympic architectural marvel

After a landslide of negative news about the upcoming Olympics in Beijing, the hosts finally got a breath of (sort of) fresh air this week by opening the doors to the much-anticipated Bird’s Nest stadium. Nicknamed after its unique structure of woven steel, the stadium stands 230 feet tall and will seat 91,000 spectators. At a cost of nearly $500 million, the stadium, which went under construction in December of 2003, was completed just 14 weeks behind schedule thanks to a largely migrant force of nearly 7,000 workers.

The Bird’s Nest was originally intended to have a retractable roof that would protect athletes and spectators from foul weather, but that element was scrapped due to its high cost in favor of a thin membrane that some fear may not do the trick if Beijing is struck by heavy precipitation.

With China’s typical rainy summers in mind, meteorologists are testing a series of technologies to fool Mother Nature into not raining at all. Two aircraft and an array of 20 artillery cannons will fire silver iodide and dry ice into the clouds in an attempt to suck out moisture. Liquid nitrogen will also be used to shrink the size of droplets, thereby reducing the chance it will fall. So far, there’s scant evidence that this will actually work. Next problem for scientists to solve: how to get rid of Beijing’s notorious pollution.