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Articles in the EARTH Category

EARTH, WATER »

[27 Dec 2011 | No Comment | 17,586 views]
Not Quite Coral: A New Type of Cement Made from CO2 and Water

 
When I was a small and intensely young person, my parents would drive me down the California coastline to a town called Carmel near Monterrey Bay, where we would hang out on the beach and frolic amongst the slowly rotting kelp and aggressive sea gulls, eat burgers at Flaherty’s Seafood Restaurant (which specializes in seafood, not land food – I was five), and weave in and out of various art galleries until we were tired enough to return to our hotel and fall asleep.

Image courtesy citi-data.com
One time down in Carmel …

EARTH, WATER »

[29 Nov 2011 | No Comment | 9,467 views]
Solid Poetry: Patterns Revealed in Concrete When Wet

 
The grass is always greener – except when it doesn’t rain appreciably for three straight months, as was the case this summer where I live in Texas. Here, the grass was golden brown, parched, dessicated and crunchy like a stale sugar cookie or gauze belonging to a dried out ancient Egyptian mummy. As summer wore on, I found myself desperately squinting up at the blazing blue sky, searching in vain for the faintest hint of cloud formation. We were facing the kind of heat that makes standing on black pavement …

EARTH, METAL »

[21 Nov 2011 | No Comment | 6,792 views]
The Lightest Material in the Entire World

 
Things are heavy right now, man. People are fighting wars, Wall Street is occupied, a large percentage of the workforce can’t find jobs, airport security procedures intensify in complexity by the minute, the rainforest is shrinking as I type … and that’s just the tip of the rapidly melting iceberg. So if you’re already feeling like Atlas with the weight of the world on your shoulders, you’ll be glad to find out that scientists recently invented a material so lightweight it makes styrofoam seem as heavy as a lead ingot.
In …

EARTH, WATER »

[6 Oct 2011 | One Comment | 4,160 views]
Modern Super-Spies Like Bacterial Invisible Ink

 
There wouldn’t be so many spy novels if there weren’t something so delightfully compelling about the idea of being a spy: you’re invited to imagine that your job is to sneak around in a trench coat and fedora, talking out of the side of your mouth and pretending to be something or someone you’re not in order to gather information on behalf of the resistance.
Knowing something you’re forbidden to know, or that other people want to know but don’t – or that other people don’t think you know, imparts a …

EARTH »

[21 Jun 2011 | One Comment | 10,066 views]
TAKTL: Ultra High Performance Concrete

When the Romans were messing around with chemicals and rocks, looking for something that would allow them to construct barrel vaults and the odd aqueduct, I doubt they imagined that unreinforced concrete could one day achieve a level of refinement that would make the supremely elegant (late) Princess Grace look like a bit of a pig.

Image courtesy newcritic.com
But yes, the day has dawned: TAKTL is a new ultra high performance concrete (UHPC) with seemingly “unlimited potential in the architecture, landscape and product design industries” (Source: TAKTL).  This new material is similar to GFRC (Glass Fiber …

EARTH, FIRE »

[3 Jun 2011 | One Comment | 6,361 views]
Glowcrete: Luminescent Concrete by Vergelabs

There’s something magic about things that glow – they’re suprising and delightful.  Think of that moment at the aquarium when you turn a corner and encounter a darkened tank illuminated by a school of luminous fish darting hither and yon, or nights spent staring up at a bedroom ceiling covered with constellations of glowing stick-on stars.
VergeLabs, an architecture and design practice based in the United Arab Emirates founded as a partnership between Ginger Krieg Dosier and Michael Dosier, brought some of that magic to concrete with their development of Glowcrete.

Image courtesy Vergelabs
The researchers used phosphorescent …

EARTH, WOOD »

[21 Apr 2011 | 2 Comments | 5,538 views]
Stronger than Kevlar: Plastic Reinforced with Nanocellulose Fibers from Pineapples!

It’s always a shock to find out that something you thought you made up is actually (or at least mostly) true.  Take the post I wrote for April Fool’s Day about a new plastic made from pulverized Tulip leaves: I thought that heating and then pulverizing plant fibers into a fine powder and suspending them in a polymer matrix to make a super-strong material was a crazy idea of my own making that sounded faintly feasible.  As it turns out, Brazilian researchers at Sao Paulo State University are at this very moment working on a new plastic …

EARTH, FEATURED, WOOD »

[1 Apr 2011 | 2 Comments | 34,758 views]
Stronger than Steel! Amazing New Super Plastic Made from Tulip Leaves

In the early 1600’s, the Dutch found themselves completely overcome by Tulip mania. Demand for these perennial flowers skyrocketed to the point where you could have fed six modest families for thirty seven years on what some people paid for a bulb.  People were making fortunes trading rare species.  Had the flower joined Twitter, it would have made Justin Bieber look profoundly unpopular.  But within a short period of time the “tulip bubble” burst, leaving fields of flowers to rot and leaving many merchants as ruined as victims of a …

EARTH, WOOD »

[22 Mar 2011 | One Comment | 14,068 views]
Form Us With Love: Hexagonal Wood Wool Cement Board Tiles

When you’re a designer, having problems can be a good thing. Well, I suppose I ought to be clear that I am talking about certain kinds of problems (for example, not even one of Jay-Z’s 99 problems would qualify). FORM US WITH LOVE, a design collective based in Sweden, turned a problem they were having with an echoing studio space into a partnership with a woodwool cement manufacturer. Träullit is a 20-man factory located in Österbymo, “little more than a fleck on the map between Stockholm and Malmö” and it’s the only manufacturer of woodwool cement …

EARTH »

[15 Mar 2011 | One Comment | 4,673 views]
Meco’Briq: Rammed Earth has Nothing Whatsoever to do with Sheep

So I took a brief hiatus to go to Paris, and that is why I missed a week of posting. I am sorry. I needed cheese, wine, macaroons, and croissants in the worst possible way, and as a consequence last week I was unable to focus on materials that cannot be ingested. I hope you understand. Now that I’m back, I’d like to kick things off by telling you about a fantabulous rammed earth building system being developed by, fittingly, a French company: Toulouse-based Meco’concept.
We don’t see many rammed earth buildings in …

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