(Roughly) Daily

Posts Tagged ‘steel

“Why were Europeans, rather than Africans or Native Americans, the ones to end up with guns, the nastiest germs, and steel?”*…



Oil painting by E.F. Skinner showing steel being produced by the Bessemer Process at Penistone Steel Works, South Yorkshire. Circa 1916


The story of steel begins long before bridges, I-beams, and skyscrapers. It begins in the stars.

Billions of years before humans walked the Earth—before the Earth even existed—blazing stars fused atoms into iron and carbon. Over countless cosmic explosions and rebirths, these materials found their way into asteroids and other planetary bodies, which slammed into one another as the cosmic pot stirred. Eventually, some of that rock and metal formed the Earth, where it would shape the destiny of one particular species of walking ape.

On a day lost to history, some fortuitous humans found a glistening meteorite, mostly iron and nickel, that had barreled through the atmosphere and crashed into the ground. Thus began an obsession that gripped the species. Over the millennia, our ancestors would work the material, discovering better ways to draw iron from the Earth itself and eventually to smelt it into steel. We’d fight over it, create and destroy nations with it, grow global economies by it, and use it to build some of the greatest inventions and structures the world has ever known…

The story of the emperor of alloys: “The entire history of steel.”

* Jared Diamond, Guns, Germs, and Steel


As we celebrate strength, we might recall that it was on this date in 1867 that F. Joseph Monier launched a (then-)new use for steel: a gardener in Paris, he received the first patent on reinforced concrete (which he used to create stronger garden tubs, beams and posts).  Monier had found that the tensile weakness of plain concrete could be overcome if steel rods were embedded in a concrete member… and in so doing created a key material that would be used in skyscrapers, bridges, and much of what we now take for granted as the infrastructure of modern life.

Joseph_Monier source


Written by (Roughly) Daily

July 16, 2018 at 1:01 am

“Happy, Happy, Joy, Joy”*…


Reddit turns its lens on itself and its users…

Randall Munroe sorted the sciences nicely by purity. Let’s see what sequence the application of other metrics, like usage amount of specific words in the respective subreddits, yields.

About 434k randomly chosen comments to about 34k submissions from 2013-08 to 2014-07 on /r/biology/r/chemistry, /r/compsci, /r/engineering, /r/geology, /r/math, /r/medicine,/r/physics, /r/psychology and /r/sociologywere collected and analysed for frequency of specific words and phrases…

By way of analytic example: given the chart above, one shouldn’t probably shouldn’t be surprised by these results…

More insight at “Science subreddits and their choice of words.”

* Ren and Stimpy


As we get our rocks on, we might send stony birthday greetings to Raphael Pumpelly; he was born on this date in 1837.  A geologist and explorer, Pumpelly is best remembered for his pioneering petrographic study of the Great Lakes region, as a result of which he sensed the increasing importance of steel, and advised investors to search for iron rather than gold– making those who heeded his advice great fortunes.



Written by (Roughly) Daily

September 8, 2014 at 1:01 am

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