[Flash Forward] EARTH: The Cement Ban

EARTH: The Cement Ban

26/03/2019 by Rose Eveleth

Web player: http://podplayer.net/?id=66271267
Episode: https://www.podtrac.com/pts/redirect.mp3/traffic.megaphone.fm/PPY9453899730.mp3?updated=1553571009

Today we travel to a future where we try to break up with cement. Can it be done? How did cement because so ubiquitous? And what’s so bad about cement in the first place? Guests: Grady Hillhouse: civil engineer and host of Practical Engineering Robbie Andrew: senior researcher at CICERO Center for International Climate Research Amy Slaton: historian at Drexel University and author of Reinforced Concrete and the Modernization of American Building David Stone: inventor of Ferrock → → → Further reading & full transcript ← ← ←

Actors: The Snowglobe Narrator: Brent Rose Lenny Haywood: Evan Johnson Farah Mousterian: Zahra Noorbakhsh, host of Good Muslim, Bad Muslim John Jacob Siwa: Joseph Jones Juana Aguilar: Tamara Krinsky, host of Tomorrow’s World Today Kevin Macklin: Lawrence Carter Long
Flash Forward is produced by me, Rose Eveleth. The intro music is by Asura and the outtro music is by Hussalonia. The episode art is by Matt Lubchansky.
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Listen Date: 2019-05-04

Notes:

  • This made me aware and embarrased about how little I know of cement manufacturing despite supplying the cement industry. I had completely forgotten, for example, that the main reaction is Calcium Carbonate -> Calcium Oxide + Carbon Dioxide
  • The Ferrock thing… I am really surprised and wondering if the guy is a crank. Fine, maybe nobody in the USA or the larger cement industry wants to take it up, but weren’t carbon offsets supposed to be the mechanism that allowed other companies or venture capitalists that would go for this? Surely somebody in Europe would be interested.
  • Maybe he’s not a crank and is playing up his distress rather than his success.
  • Reading the history of the social signaling of cement would be interesting.
  • The Patreon extra episode makes the point that talking about the greatness of Roman concrete is very likely Ancient Aliens inflected ‘You know, the past was a golden age.’ But then goes on to also talk about aluminous tobermorite (which made me remember the Saki story about the talking cat); and how we should probably not hanker for a building material and techniques that rely on scarce minerals and slave labour. Though, I dunno, I could get behind any major project that required enslaving Britons and the Irish.
  • Listening to Rose Eveleth talk about the books she was reading was also so much fun.

 

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