Heroes

Eco-friendly concrete could make your morning commute a lot smoother.

Imagine a world with no more spilled coffee because of bumpy roads.

Eco-friendly concrete could make your morning commute a lot smoother.

Road salt — nearly 1 million tons of it just in the state of Pennsylvania — is used to keep cars safe on the road.

In the aftermath, however, it means thousands of cracks, potholes, and other damages in roads that need to be repaired each year because the chemicals in the salt "dice up" asphalt and concrete when the salt causes the water in snow to stick around, freeze, and do some damage.

All images via iStock.


Fortunately, there may be a new type of concrete coming to town.

It's made from coal furnace leftovers and uses less calcium hydroxide — the ingredient that reacts with road salt and causes that frustratingly pore-like reaction in concrete — which means you'd be riding a bit smoother on it.

The concrete is even more durable than what we use now because it doesn’t react with road salt and is made from recycled materials.

"Many departments of transportation have reduced the amount of calcium chloride they use to melt ice and snow, even though it is very efficient at doing so — because it has also been found to be very destructive," said Dr. Yaghoob Farnam, assistant professor at Drexel University in Philadelphia and lead researcher on the team behind the new mixture.

By recycling power industry byproducts such as fly ash, silica fume, and slag that would normally get tossed and become harmful to the environment to make the concrete, Farnam's team came up with a solution to the thousands of road-related repairs caused by salt damage that is also environmentally friendly.

Not all roads are made of concrete, but many sidewalks and parking lots are.

This new concrete could be a relief to anyone who's ever broken a carton of eggs after guiding a shopping cart over a cracked parking lot or ended up with a lap full of joe while drinking a cup of coffee on a morning commute.

(Since so many people drink java and drive, this could be a major game changer when it comes to safety as well — although, you may want to rethink that when so many accidents are caused by distracted coffee-sippers behind the wheel.)

This may not be in your city tomorrow, but you can help move things along.

Safe, healthy, durable infrastructure takes time to build the right way, Farnam cautions, but it’s important for government leaders and local municipalities to consider infrastructure decisions as long-term plans and spend the time to come up with intelligent, sustainable solutions. That may include the need for this type of research to be done for other road-building materials like asphalt.

Try attending local municipal meetings and talking to decision-makers about how they gather information about infrastructure choices. You may also want write in to state legislators to suggest sustainable solutions like this one.

If you want to start at the source, you might even try asking those legislators to support funding for research on projects like this with your own local department of transportation.

"This would help scientists understand what are real challenges in our society, and it will also help the leadership and contractors to learn about the new technologies that they can use on a daily basis," Farnam says.

Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash
True

Glenda moved to Houston from Ohio just before the pandemic hit. She didn't know that COVID-19-related delays would make it difficult to get her Texas driver's license and apply for unemployment benefits. She quickly found herself in an impossible situation — stranded in a strange place without money for food, gas, or a job to provide what she needed.

Alone, hungry, and scared, Glenda dialed 2-1-1 for help. The person on the other end of the line directed her to the Houston-based nonprofit Bread of Life, founded by St. John's United Methodist pastors Rudy and Juanita Rasmus.

For nearly 30 years, Bread of Life has been at the forefront of HIV/AIDS prevention, eliminating food insecurity, providing permanent housing to formerly homeless individuals and disaster relief.

Glenda sat in her car for 20 minutes outside of the building, trying to muster up the courage to get out and ask for help. She'd never been in this situation before, and she was terrified.

When she finally got out, she encountered Eva Thibaudeau, who happened to be walking down the street at the exact same time. Thibaudeau is the CEO of Temenos CDC, a nonprofit multi-unit housing development also founded by the Rasmuses, with a mission to serve Midtown Houston's homeless population.

Keep Reading Show less

Eight months into the coronavirus pandemic, many of us are feeling the weight of it growing heavier and heavier. We miss normal life. We miss our friends. We miss travel. We miss not having to mentally measure six feet everywhere we go.

Maybe that's what was on Edmund O'Leary's mind when he tweeted on Friday. Or maybe he had some personal issues or challenges he was dealing with. After all, it's not like people didn't struggle pre-COVID. Now, we just have the added stress of a pandemic on top of our normal mental and emotional upheavals.

Whatever it was, Edmund decided to reach out to Twitter and share what he was feeling.

"I am not ok," he wrote. "Feeling rock bottom. Please take a few seconds to say hello if you see this tweet. Thank you."

O'Leary didn't have a huge Twitter following, but somehow his tweet started getting around quickly. Response after response started flowing in from all over the world, even from some famous folks. Thousands of people seemed to resonate with Edmund's sweet and honest call for help and rallied to send him support and good cheer.

Keep Reading Show less
Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash
True

Glenda moved to Houston from Ohio just before the pandemic hit. She didn't know that COVID-19-related delays would make it difficult to get her Texas driver's license and apply for unemployment benefits. She quickly found herself in an impossible situation — stranded in a strange place without money for food, gas, or a job to provide what she needed.

Alone, hungry, and scared, Glenda dialed 2-1-1 for help. The person on the other end of the line directed her to the Houston-based nonprofit Bread of Life, founded by St. John's United Methodist pastors Rudy and Juanita Rasmus.

For nearly 30 years, Bread of Life has been at the forefront of HIV/AIDS prevention, eliminating food insecurity, providing permanent housing to formerly homeless individuals and disaster relief.

Glenda sat in her car for 20 minutes outside of the building, trying to muster up the courage to get out and ask for help. She'd never been in this situation before, and she was terrified.

When she finally got out, she encountered Eva Thibaudeau, who happened to be walking down the street at the exact same time. Thibaudeau is the CEO of Temenos CDC, a nonprofit multi-unit housing development also founded by the Rasmuses, with a mission to serve Midtown Houston's homeless population.

Keep Reading Show less

The subject of late-term abortions has been brought up repeatedly during this election season, with President Trump making the outrageous claim that Democrats are in favor of executing babies.

This message grossly misrepresents what late-term abortion actually is, as well as what pro-choice advocates are actually "in favor of." No one is in favor of someone having a specific medical procedure—that would require being involved in someone's individual medical care—but rather they are in favor of keeping the government out of decisions about specific medical procedures.

Pete Buttigieg, who has become a media surrogate for the Biden campaign—and quite an effective one at that—addressed this issue in a Fox News town hall when he was on the campaign trail himself. When Chris Wallace asked him directly about late-term abortions, Buttigieg answered Wallace's questions is the best way possible.

"Do you believe, at any point in pregnancy, whether it's at six weeks or eight weeks or 24 weeks or whenever, that there should be any limit on a woman's right to have an abortion?" Wallace asked.

Keep Reading Show less

When it comes to the topic of race, we all have questions. And sometimes, it honestly can be embarrassing to ask perfectly well-intentioned questions lest someone accuse you of being ignorant, or worse, racist, for simply admitting you don't know the answer.

America has a complicated history with race. For as long as we've been a country, our culture, politics and commerce have been structured in a way to deny our nation's past crimes, minimize the structural and systemic racism that still exists and make the entire discussion one that most people would rather simply not have.

For example, have you ever wondered what's really behind the term Black Pride? Is it an uplifting phrase for the Black community or a divisive term? Most people instinctively put the term "White Pride" in a negative context. Is there such a thing as non-racist, racial pride for white people? And while we're at it, what about Asian people, Native Americans, and so on?

Yes, a lot of people raise these questions with bad intent. But if you've ever genuinely wanted an answer, either for yourself or so that you best know how to handle the question when talking to someone with racist views, writer/director Michael McWhorter put together a short, simple and irrefutable video clip explaining why "White Pride" isn't a real thing, why "Black Pride" is and all the little details in between.


Keep Reading Show less