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How were giant ancient structures like Stonehenge, or the towering Moai heads on Easter Island, assembled at a time when cranes and trucks were still hundreds of years away? Researchers at MIT have given more credence to theories that ancient engineers were masters of balance and leverage with a new experiment that produced giant concrete structures, some 3,900+ pounds in weight, that can be still be maneuvered by hand.
Matter Design (which was co-founded by Brandon Clifford, who’s also an assistant professor at MIT) worked with CEMEX, a company that specializes in building materials, to design a series of over-sized concrete monoliths that could be assembled like giant building blocks into a larger, functional structure. But despite weighing many tons a piece and being durable enough to survive hundreds of years, the concrete blocks feature unique makeups and shapes that make them relatively easy to move, even by just a single person.
Couple - Design - Approaches - Work - Blocks
There’s a couple of different design approaches at work here. The blocks, which are also known as massive masonry units—or MMUs, for short—are made from concrete with varying densities to allow precise control over where the object’s center of gravity ends up, adding stability and balance. And while each giant block looks like a random blob, they’re engineered with strategically placed bevels, rounded edges, pivot points,...
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