BOOK REVIEW: Concrete Planet: The Strange and Fascinating Story of the World's Most Common Man-made Material by Robert Courland | Science News

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BOOK REVIEW: Concrete Planet: The Strange and Fascinating Story of the World's Most Common Man-made Material by Robert Courland

Review by Sid Perkins

By
11:01am, February 10, 2012

Concrete is everywhere, especially if you live in a city. It’s used for buildings, bridges, roads, dams, sidewalks, airport runways, even burial vaults. There are already about 40 tons of concrete on the planet for every person alive, with another ton added each year.

In this wide-reaching book, Courland reviews the saga of what many may view as a mundane material, from its discovery during the Neolithic (the later part of the Stone Age) to its rediscovery in the late 1700s — made necessary after the secrets of its manufacture were largely lost with the fall of the Roman Empire.

A world without concrete simply wouldn’t look the same: Skyscrapers wouldn’t be as tall and most other buildings would be smaller; all dams would be bulky, earth-filled structures; and roads would certainly have more potholes. In short, Courland suggests, the world would look muc

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