X-Ray Studies Hint At The Romans’ Secret To Stopping Climate Change

Highly focused X-Ray beams have revealed the molecular make-up of concrete from a Roman pier, revealing how it gained its strength and longevity. The work could fill in one of the biggest missing pieces of our understanding on how to stop the world from heating up.

Superior engineering contributed to the Roman Empire’s success, but of course, we have long since surpassed their technology. Concrete, is the big exception, however. The ancient product was in many ways more advanced than the one we build with today, as demonstrated by the survival of some 2000-year-old roads and buildings, even in earthquake zones.

Moreover, Roman concrete didn’t cook the planet, having a fraction of the environmental impact. Unfortunately, we still haven’t worked out how it was made. In a quest to learn the secret Roman sauce, Professor Marie Jackson of the University of Utah used the Berkeley Lab’s Advanced Light SourceX-Rays to examine concrete taken from a 2000-year-old pier from Orbetello, Italy. Jackson said in a statement. “We can identify the various minerals and the intriguingly complex sequences of crystallization at the micron scale.”


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