The Weight of the Earth

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Every year, approx. 9 trillion kilograms of concrete is produced as a building material and formed into structures. Therefore, from the Industrial Revolution (circa 1840) around 100 trillion kilograms of concrete has been added to the earth. But does this mean that the earth is 100 trillion kilograms heavier than it was in 1840? No. Cement is made by heating powdered limestone with clay, then concrete is made by mixing cement with sand, water and crushed rocks (aggregate). Concrete is then reinforced with iron or steel. All these things come from the earth – concrete in essence is made from matter that already existed on earth.

concrete building material

In chaos theory, humans promote order, and the universe promotes chaos – it is known as entropy. Eventually entropy will win every time. Consider this… a child makes a sandcastle on the beach thus organising trillions  of sand molecules in a unique order. These trillions of sand molecules have never been organised in this particular order before. Eventually the universe will knock the sandcastle down with a wave or a rising tide. No matter how many tides, or waves hit these sand molecules, they will never be organised again in the same order as when the child built the sandcastle. Eventually, the universe and chaos wins – every time.

The weight of the Moon?

Luckily concrete can last for thousands of years before it crumbles and falls victim to entropy. But in making a batch of concrete, humans are promoting order – the cement, sand, crushed rocks and water are organised into a particular order. This order forms a bond, and strength ensues. In organising all these atoms into a concrete structure, one could be forgiven for thinking this is adding weight to the world. As above-mention, in the last 150 years, around 100 trillion kilograms of concrete has been added to the earth’s surface. This sounds like a lot, but really it is not. 100 trillion is written in number form like this…

100,000,000,000,000 or 10^10 meaning 10x10x10x10x10x10x10x10x10x10

The weight of the moon is 7.35 x 10^22 or 740,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 or 740 billion trillion kilograms. The weight of the moon is 7.4 billion times greater than the weight of all the concrete on earth.

Tall buildings and Urban Habitat

The Strength of Concrete

So for anyone fearful that the world is getting heavier due to the construction of more and more buildings, just relax, because the world was supporting the weight of the matter that would become these buildings long before man built them!

But we are left with the fact, that as it has for all the common era (CE), concrete is the most popular building material by far. In fact, concrete is the 2nd most consumed substance on earth behind water. But why concrete still in the 21st century? Well concrete is the most natural disaster proof material on earth, and with an average strength 3000psi, concrete is perfect to build on top of (concrete slabs), or to be stacked on top of itself (tilt-up panels).

300mm – 600m Miracle pieces of Steel

The secret weapon of concrete is the concrete joints. Concrete is finite, meaning that even in theory, an infinite concrete panel could not be made. Even the biggest and best concrete structures ever envisaged require concrete joints. When joining concrete panels to one and other, dowels are used to strengthen the joints thus ensuring the load transfer remains even on each side of the join. At Danterr we are the dowel experts. Think about it from a laymen’s point of view. If you are building a skyscraper that is 600m high, the tilt-up concrete panels have to be placed on top of each other and aligned. If you are building a runway at an airport, and you have hundreds of pre-cast concrete panels, they need to be laid down, and connected in perfect symmetry with adjoining panels. The best way to do this is with steel dowels. These miracle pieces of steel allow horizontal movement of slabs during contraction after laying the concrete and at temperature changes. In addition, they prevent ‘steps’ together with different vertical slab movements during the life span of the poured concrete.

concrete building material

Danterr are an industry leader in the sourcing and delivery of high-quality dowels in all cuts, shapes, diameters and finishes to any project Australia wide. Next time you are on a road, or landing in a plane, or looking up at a building, or taking a smooth ride on a train, or enjoying a museum, or riding a bike a cross a bridge, remember that the concrete around you is actually not one big piece, but many little pieces held together by steel dowels.

Danterr are your one stop shop should you need these wonderful inventions for your residential, commercial or civil project. Concrete is still the best building material, but to be the best, concrete needs dowels, and Danterr have access to every shape, size, cut and specialised finished dowel that you could possibly need.

Enquire now for all your building material and concrete needs and mention this blog to receive a bit of special treatment from our sales team if you are enquiring about dowels!

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For those who are still reading…

The weight of the earth can only be affected by two factors. The world loses weight when light atoms like hydrogen and helium drift through our atmosphere. We are losing about 100,000 tonnes of this per years. The earth gains weight when dust from space penetrates our atmosphere and lands on the earth’s surface. We are picking up about 41,000 tonnes of this per year. Therefore, the earth is getting lighter by about 60,000 tonnes per year. Is this cause for concern? Well it would be huge cause for concern on a larger scale as a lighter earth would be less resistant to the Sun’s gravity thus taking earth closer and making it much hotter. But the Sun and the planets are staying approximately the same distance apart and have been in roughly the same places for the last several billion years. Planetary orbits are a fine balancing act between momentum and gravity. As the planets fly through space they want to move in a straight line but the gravity from the Sun attempts to pull the planets towards it, which curves their paths. The planets currently lie in a perfect balance that results in each planet moving fast enough to not be pulled closer to the Sun, but not too fast that it moves away from the Sun and out of the Solar System.

The earth weighs 5.95 x 10^22 kilograms or 5,950,000,000,000,000,000,000,000kg. Therefore the 60,000 tonnes we are losing per year adds up to just 0.000000000000001%. It would take trillions of years for the earth’s hydrogen to empty into space completely, so there is no real cause for concern just at the moment.