The mystery has been cracked. Structural experts have always been amazed at the quality and longevity of Roman era concrete as witnessed by standing viaducts, the Coliseum, the Pantheon and many other architectural marvels.
Turns out, it’s structure has a long held secret that provides a self-healing property:
Hot mixing, they thought, would ultimately produce a cement that wasn’t completely smooth and mixed, but instead contained small calcium-rich rocks. Those little rocks, ubiquitous in the walls of the Romans’ concrete buildings, might be the key to why those structures have withstood the ravages of time. …
“In every sample we have seen of ancient Roman concrete, you can find these white inclusions,” Masic says, … “The researchers’ chemical analyses of such rocks embedded in the walls at the archaeological site of Privernum in Italy indicated that the inclusions were very calcium-rich.” … "A ready supply of calcium was already on hand: It would dissolve, seep into the cracks and re-crystallize. Voila! Scar healed.
Due to the massive amounts of deaths caused during the Roman conquests, I wonder if the Romans tried crushing bones (for calcium) of the dead and mixing into the cement and accidentally discovered that those building they constructed lasted much longer than those built with just cement and sand. They would have a huge supply if calcium wherever they go automatically!!
Also heard that the dead people they used and tossed them in the foundations of the buildings is what make them resist time and have not cracked like other buildings in history. We cannot be sure they even say the romans found glass that can bend like plastic but ws later destroyed the information.
Last year, the bison was chosen as America’s first national mammal, joining the bald eagle as a symbol of America. I started writing this post with only a mild interest in bison. But the more I learned, the more I want to learn, and this blog post took on a life of it’s own. The bison have a fascinating history, unique appearance, and they present complex challenges in the present day. They are a symbol of the untamed West. Their near-extinction is a testament to the self-centeredness of “civilized” men and their resurgence shows that we can learn from and try to correct our mistakes.
Why did people nearly push the bison to extinction?
In the same vain I just noticed this comment I made days ago never got onto the board, no surprise, it’s gotten to be insane with interruptions around here.
Guess that might work chemically, although seems more a matter of serendipity (what are we going to do with all these bodies?) rather than being puzzled out by some structural chemist. Sort of like the Romans were simply lucky that it’s the kind of raw material they had available.
Might I suggest keeping Galveston, Texas off your vacation bucket list.
I read a fascinating book Isaac’s Storm by Erik Larson a few different stories that unfold together with the monster hurricane of 1900 - it includes a rather macabre postscript.
Life is harsh, the dead are buried and the living move on.
Ironically web surfing about flexible glass, (not to be mistaken with glass that will bend), brought me back to concrete and yet more layers of details to the solution of the Roman concrete mystery. Beyond the whole availability of occasional soluble calcium, dealing with salt intrusion seems every bit as important. Folds within fold of complexity.
The composition of Roman concrete has been long known, being a mixture of volcanic ash, quicklime (calcium oxide) and volcanic rock, but the science behind its resilience to seawater remained unknown until recently. It is thought volcanic material was used after the Romans observed ash from volcanic eruptions crystallize to form durable rock.
The research team discovered that while modern concrete is made to be inert, the Roman version interacts with the environment.
When seawater interacts with the mixture, it forms rare minerals aluminous tobermorite and phillipsite which are believed to strengthen the material. This discovery could lead to the development of more resilient concrete to be used in coastal environments. …
Roman concrete however does not appear susceptible to any of these processes. The research team found that seawater, the kryptonite to modern concrete, was the magic ingredient responsible for the structural stability of the Roman mixture. The Roman concrete samples were found to contain rare aluminous tobermorite and phillipsite crystals. It is believed that with long-term exposure to seawater, tobermorite crystalizes from the phillipsiteas it becomes more alkaline.
This crystallization is thought to strengthen the compound, as tobermorite has long plate-like crystals that allow the material to bend rather than crack under stress. Pliny the Elder in the first century CE exclaimed “that as soon as it [concrete] comes into contact with the waves of the sea and is submerged [it] becomes a single stone mass (fierem unum lapidem), impregnable to the waves and every day stronger.”
'To arrive at these conclusions, Jackson et. al. (2017) performed scanning electron microscopy (SEM), micro x-ray diffraction (XRD), Raman spectroscopy and electron probe microanalysis at the Advanced Light Source at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. …"
Why do people bomb the hell out of cities with alacrity? … and always feeling self-justified doing it?
Why do we continue destroying our global life support system with wanton abandon?
Why are we humans so incapable of recognizing our monster side?
Teddy Roosevelt, who ordered the Buffalo be slaughtered, we hardly a nature and animal lover (Conservationist). Of course, he did that to starve the Native Americans, which makes him a murderer, not a conservationist.
Cement is one of the greatest chemical reactions discovered by man in the advancement of our species.The second and some could argue it beats cement is the production of N1 or ammonia production.N1 allowed for greater production of food.Plants can’t use N2 which is in the atmosphere.
Another interesting thing about cement is that it is one of the biggest CO2 producers accounting for 7 to 10 percent of emisions.
Of course, in different places, there may be different kinds of termites and different kinds of soil in their mounds. But one thing about all of these mounds is that, if the mounds are hard, you can take soil from the outside layer of the mounds and make quite a few different things. Here’s a list, and, depending on your soil and your termites, you could certainly make some of these things.
In some places, such as southern and southwestern Tanzania and central Angola, they use termite mound soil for making a hard surface on roads and paths.
In northern Botswana, they build small dams out of soil from termite mounds.
In Brazil and Guyana, bricks have been made out of termite mound soil.
In Sri Lanka, there are buildings 1,500 years old with plastered walls—and the plaster came from termite mounds.
In Tanzania, large grain storage pots are made from straw, reeds, sisal, or bamboo strips and plastered inside and out with cement made from termite mound soil. This keeps pests out of the grain.
All over the world, farmers use it for making hard surfaces for threshing floors or floors in grain storage buildings to keep rats from coming up through the floor.
People use it for making stoves and ovens, for water containers, pottery, and even long-lasting cooking pots.
Perhaps you know of other uses.
The second and some could argue it beats cement is the production of N1 or ammonia production. N1 allowed for greater production of food.
Plants can’t use N2 which is in the atmosphere.
Earth’s atmosphere contains a huge pool of nitrogen gas (N2). But this nitrogen is “unavailable” to plants, because the gaseous form cannot be used directly by plants without undergoing a transformation. To be used by plants, the N2 must be transformed through a process called nitrogen fixation.Mar 12, 2019
Another interesting thing about cement is that it is one of the biggest CO2 producers accounting for 7 to 10 percent of emissions.
Another artificial imitation of a natural resource used by insects. Unfortunately, unlike termite mortar, human cement (concrete) is not environmentally friendly.
CEMENT AND CONCRETE: THE ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT
As a material that creates the majority of the world’s bridges, roads, dams, and construction, concrete releases an extreme amount CO2 each year. It’s the highest consumed product on earth besides water. Until the overall emissions are cut worldwide, the environment will continue to be polluted with over 4 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide annually due to this industry.
As to natural v human inventions, I believe the invention of flight by insect must rank as the greatest evolutionary invention of all time.
Flight allowed the insect to spread all over the world in record time as well as survive many extinction events.
p.s. ants and termites practiced husbandry and agriculture billions of years before the great apes appeared.
Ants and aphids have a special relationship, mutualistic in nature – they each benefit from one another; ants protect aphids and aphids feed ants.
These gardens are maintained by White ants (termites) , which are nourished by the excrement of the insects. When the fungi are eaten, their spores pass undamaged through the intestines of the termites to complete the cycle by germinating in the fresh fecal pellets.
I meant the process of making cement it may very well of been in nature but we still had to discover the process we use.It is one of the greatest discoveries next to N1 as I said.Can you think of any other chemical reactions that had great benifits to humans.Better than cement or N1?
I find N1 interesting when 2 N1s come together to make N2 energy is released you can see those results in explosives based on nitogen.It releases energy because N2 shares electrons making N2 very stable.
Before we discuss beneficial chemical reactions, we should establish some parameters.
Are we talking about human discoveries or natural evolutionary processes.
Obviously natural abiogenesis was the greatest of all chemical reactions where biochemical complexity acquired the ability for self-organization and duplication, leading to the emergence of “living organisms”.
Cement is useful, but as I understand it cement is also a big pollutant.
That is not so good.
What about the discovery and ability to manufacture penicillin
Penicillin is a medication used to manage and treat a wide range of infections. It is in the beta-lactam antibiotic class of drugs. This activity describes penicillin’s indications, action, and contraindications as a valuable agent in treating infection. May 19, 2022
N1 is not a chemical reaction , it is a chemical molecule.
At first glance it seems to be a microtubule (mitochondrial) inhibitor that can be used to combat certain diseases.
Concrete (cement) is a building material and is useful for transportation of goods, but also has a negative impact on the natural ecology.
The point is that everything other than energy is a chemical reaction.
I don’t know what exactly you are getting at .
One can make a case that the invention of the combustion engine (a chemical reaction) was a life altering discovery.
But then, here we are in the midst of climate change.
If we take inventory of species that have conquered aerodynamics, the list is long.
Many insects can fly
Birds can fly
Almost all species have relatives that can fly or glide.
Plants use the aerial distribution of pollen and seeds.
We are the very last species that learned how to fly, due to the invention of the combustion engine, a chemical process,
Humans are the last species that has learned to navigate the airways.
Flying and gliding animals
A number of animals are capable of aerial locomotion, either by powered flight or by gliding. This trait has appeared by evolution many times, without any single common ancestor. Flight has evolved at least four times in separate animals: insects, pterosaurs, birds, and bats. Gliding has evolved on many more occasions. Usually the development is to aid canopy animals in getting from tree to tree, although there are other possibilities. Gliding, in particular, has evolved among rainforest animals, especially in the rainforests in Asia (most especially Borneo) where the trees are tall and widely spaced. Several species of aquatic animals, and a few amphibians and reptiles have also evolved this gliding flight ability, typically as a means of evading predators. Flying and gliding animals - Wikipedia
Whatever man has invented or developed is based on prior existing conditions that led to specific adaptations to the environment.
Man has the remarkable ability to imitate natural relational interactions, through recognition of recurring patterns, we have named “reality”.
The deeper you look, the closer you get to simple natural relational functions that are based on generic natural mathematics or “guiding principles”
Oh, it isn’t? Goodness, I’ve been posting the wrong way for the last 25 years on this site. I am such a fool. Thanks for showing me how its done…
Whenever I make a statement I believe is factual, I accompany it with at least 1 reference to a reputable source.
As moderator, I would suggest you do the same to add weight to your missives…
So far you haven’t made much sense with your “invention of cement as a chemical process” being the greatest invention by mankind?
What does that even mean?
btw. If you would like a link to a specific site that has a more formal description on anything I referenced, please ask. I am happy to clarify and back up my claims with ongoing science.