Wednesday, March 9, 2011

T-2 Days Until Spring Break: Ancient Engineering and Roman Concrete

We're talking about the naumachia in my Engineering in the Ancient Mediterranean class, and no matter whether they were actually able to flood the Colosseum or not, I'm more interested in the concrete.

If I didn't desire to keep my sanity, I'd finish my chemistry minor. I'll just finish my organic chemistry book this summer. This does relate to concrete because there's a surprising amount of chemistry in making ancient concrete work right. Everywhere I look the ancients surprise me at how much they were able to do. I mean, they were using underwater concrete and had automated saws and mills! The Ancient Greeks had concrete too, but from what I've read the Romans were able to improve it with the volcanic sand in beaches surrounding Mount Vesuvius. Mixed with gravel, lime, and water in the right proportions in the proper conditions, we have the concrete that has lasted over 1500 years.

They couldn't have just mixed these things together and left them in the bucket and expected them to transform magically into concrete. It had to have pressure and be worked or it wouldn't set up properly. There's ancient writings about how much aging concrete and related things like bricks had to undergo before they were allowable for use in buildings. Buildings that fell in on their tenants were probably just as notorious as the ones that caught fire.

I'm thinking about doing something with concrete for my final project, but I'm not sure about whether the logistics are workable. I'm in Iowa and there aren't exactly any volcanoes near by. If I was back home, I could go ask at the observatory in the "dead zone" at Mount Saint Helens if I could borrow some ash and see how that worked.

All the underlying chemistry surrounding Roman concrete just makes me happy. But if it's too cumbersome to do a project on, I'm going to do something with Roman bread. My boyfriend will probably enjoy my various attempts, if I go that way, as it means he'll get lots of bread. The Romans may have borrowed a lot of things, or outright taken them, but they were good with advancing engineering and other things that they could get the rich to fund.

And now to write a paper on the relation of politics and religion in Egypt. Then onto a comparative analysis of the Passion accounts in the four Christian gospels and a bit of Pre-Calculus.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

I'm a Sophomore!

I've made it through my first year of college. I had a lot going on this semester or I would have probably tried to post more. Anyhow, I've had almost two weeks to recover and am currently attempting to find somewhere to shadow a doc. I guess I have a lot of things I'd like to say, but I'm hoping to be able to take pictures of things and put them up here. That and do some target practice with my bow as I haven't been able to while away at school.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Random Sight from the Bus

I didn't get a picture, as I wasn't on the right side of the bus for it, nor did I have my camera. However, I saw a man practicing tight walking in the miniature park next to the main library. He was clad in only what I'd call 'training pants' and his headphones and was practicing his balance about a foot and a half to two feet off the ground. I thought it was really cool and scary at the same time because there were trees all around him. Not a lot of other people around me seemed to notice though. I don't know if he's a student or a graduate student, or something else, but I think it was very neat what he was doing.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Today is Earth Hour!

At 8:30pm local time, I'd love for whole parts of the world to get dark, but I doubt that will happen, so it'd just be cool if whole areas went out for it. It's meant to be a call for action on climate change, but you can read more about at their site. I think it's really just very good idea for the lights to go out at night so that people can look up at the stars and planets. There's a lot of light pollution, and it's rather boring to look up at a sky with very few stars. I'll probably spend the hour reading by flashlight or something like that.

I hope that this is rather new and that it will gain more notoriety as the years continue. I'm going to add it to my calendar.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

This site is meant to help people accomplish goals which will reduce their carbon footprint. Whether there is global warming or not--I'm not a climatologist so I have no opinion on the matter--I think it's a really good idea to do things that are better for the environment because by using and reusing, we create less waste. Though less waste means less for future archaeologists, I think they will have plenty to pick through. We also will have everything a bit cleaner and aren't taking away our beautiful forests as quickly.

I'm currently participating in three challenges to make things better. They're economical, sensible, and nothing earth shattering. Some of it's easy because I live in a dorm, and some of it will my life easier in the dorms. Not using disposable things for meals is easy, but making sure that everything is properly sealed and remembering to turn my computer and electronics off at the surge protector won't be as easy.

I think it's a cool site, and I'm planning on emailing my "Office of Sustainability" at the University of Iowa and recommending it to them. No harm from it at least.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Major Topics and Themes

One of the things I'd like to do with this blog is make record of the research that I'm doing on different natural substances and things that they're used for. While the medical side is obviously important to me, I'd like to try and do more than just that. These posts will be occasional as I'd like to do them as thoroughly and properly as I can.

Also, I'd like to write about useful little things I've figured out, or am having pounded into me through school, family, or friends. I'd also like to get more involved in the blogging community and make useful comments on posts.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Introduction: I'm Not a Perfect Blogger

I'm a freshman in college. I've known about blogs since I was about fifteen, I've probably been trying to write one since I was about that old. However, I've always tried to be perfect and the best one ever. I'm not. So, my goal with this blog is to simply detail what information I think has been useful for me. That way I'll have it when I need it, and if other people find it useful, they have it. I think that blogging is really useful for self-reflection and keeping up with goals, but it's hard at the same time.