From The TSP Survival Wiki
Jump to: navigation, search

(Since the history segment is no longer bound to the number of the episode, I will take a break from Roman politics today.~David Verne)


The Amazing Properties of Roman Concrete

Contributed by David Verne

The Romans were very advanced for their time. Many of the construction projects that they completed are still breathtaking today, especially because of their durability. One of their most impressive construction projects were the breakwaters used in the harbors. While breakwaters made out of modern concrete break apart after 40-50 years of exposure to seawater, the walls built 2,000 years ago by the Romans are still somewhat intact. The key lies in the type of concrete they used. The Romans used a mixture of lime, volcanic ash, and seawater, then mixed with pieces of volcanic rock to make their concrete. This mixture was then poured into wooden molds to set, which could be done underwater, and nothing like rebar was used. Recent core samples of ruined breakwaters taken by researchers, found that the concrete actually became stronger when exposed to seawater instead of weaker. The sea had washed away parts of the volcanic ash allowing a chemical reaction to take place between the seawater and a mineral in the volcanic rocks called philipsite creating interlocking mineral growths in the cracks. The mineral crystals found in the concrete are an extremely rare mineral called aluminous tobermorite (Al-tobermorite). Al-tobermorite is extremely difficult to make in a lab and only produces small quantities. The Romans also boast the world's largest unreinforced concrete dome. The Pantheon, built in 126 AD, has a dome with a diameter of 142ft and is one of the most well preserved Roman buildings. [1] [2]

My Take by David Verne
The Romans may not have understood the science behind their construction techniques, but they were quite aware of the results. Pliny the Elder, a Roman author and naval commander, described a breakwater as, "a single stone mass, impregnable to the waves and everyday stronger." They were lucky enough to have volcanic ash with the specific chemical compound needed to create the reaction strengthening the concrete. The recipe was lost after the fall of the Empire but there are current attempts to recreate it. Roman concrete isn't perfect, requiring volcanic ash with a specific chemical compound, but it would definitely be useful when building structures in the sea. As we learn more about the Earth, and what it provides for us, we can design better systems to provide for nature and humanity.

Masurius Sabinus Publishes Treatise on Civil Law

Contributed by Southpaw Ben.

This year Sabinus publishes his 3 volume treatise on civil law. While his works were lost to history, later jurists will write commentaries about them, but unfortunately didn't inclue excerpts from his original works. He helped found one of the twom most inportant schools of Law in room during the first and second centuries, known as the Sabinian school. Marsius was also the first person to give publice respondere, which meant a state crtified opinion, a privlege granted by the emperor. This new "privilege" marked an increase in the amount of imperial control over the judicial process in this period of flux that marks the end of the Roman Republic and the start of the empire. Prior to this privilege, the value of legal opinions rested solely on the expertise of those who gave them.

My Take by Southpaw Ben
This reminds me of a news story where a man with a Electrical Engineering degree from Sweden was fined $500 for claiming to be an excellent engineer while discussing the issues with redlight cameras in the state of Oregon. The Oregon State Board of Examiners for Engineering and Land Surveying says only state liscensed engineers may call themselves engineers or "practice" engineering. While the US is by no means "repeating history" when it's compared to Rome during this time period, it defenitly rhymes, to borrow the phrase from Mark Twain. The US should stay alert to how we are heading down a similar path, and try to fix our bearing in the course towards liberty or tyranny. And since none of us are at the helm, we should make damn sure that we have our own life vests and boats ready by making our own lives better for when times get tough, or even if they don't.

See Also


  1. Ahmad, Zahra (July 3, 2017). Why modern mortar crumbles, but Roman concrete lasts millenia. American Association for the Advancement of Science.
  2. New studies of ancient concrete could teach us to do as the Romans did. Phys.org (July 3, 2017).

External Links

Personal tools