GOOD News of the Day: Rice Cement

Now we all know the BAD news (probably not ALL of it, but too much anyway) because that’s what the mainstream media feeds us. Our daily dose of news is comprised of war, terrorism, disasters, violence, corruption, crisis, death, etc., and it would seem the shithouse is going up in flames, but, BUT –and this is the first good news– it ain’t all bad. In fact, GOOD EFFIN’ NEWS HAPPENS EVERY DAY! All it takes is a flexible definition of “good” and “news”, and the magic of the internet will provide:

Great of Wall China’s sticky secret revealed
Press Trust Of India
Posted on May 31, 2010 at 18:12
London: Scientists claim to have discovered the secret behind the strength and longevity of the Great Wall of China — sticky rice.
A team at Zhejiang University in China has found that the delicious “sweet rice” that is a mainstay of modern Asian cuisine was also a key ingredient in the mortar used to build the Great Wall 1,500 years ago.
Their study also found that construction workers in ancient China mixed sticky rice soup with slaked lime and limestone to create a paste ideal for filling in gaps between bricks and stone blocks.
The super-strong material was used to build the Great Wall, as well as quake-proof tombs, pagodas and city walls, some of which still exist today, say the scientists.


Close up of the Great Wall in the Mongolian region, where it lies mostly in ruins. The mortar, however, seems pretty sturdy for having spent the last thousand years enjoying the temperate Mongolian climate

Why is this good news? Our modern techno-industrial civilization tends to forget that the ancient ones had skills and know-how that surpassed our current state of the art. They may not have had cars, phones, TV, internet or GPS, but they managed to build massive structures which stand to this day and defy current engineering expertise. And in this case they didn’t rely on heavy industry to achieve spectacular results, they simply mixed rice soup with limestone to make an earthquake-proof mortar which lasts at least 15 hundred years… guaranteed!

So the good news is that we now have a better option than brittle cement that tends to disintegrate when the ground moves, especially when mixed with too much sand. Which is precisely what happened during the April 2010 Yushu earthquake in China, if you take a close look at the AP photos from this post you can see that it’s just rubble, nothing bigger than a brick left standing.

It is ironic, but fitting perhaps, that China has just discovered a long-lost secret of their own that may hold substantial improvement in the construction of buildings worldwide. And even if it never makes it past the project stage, the fact that the humble rice grain is food and shelter all in one can be considered, in and of itself, not bad at all.

One thought on “GOOD News of the Day: Rice Cement

  1. Pingback: NOT Good News: Methane Volcanoes « 99 Percent Space

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