ONE-MA3 2018: Masters of Mortar

June 24th, 2018Fieldwork, ONE-MA3 2018

By Sophie Cohen '21 Today began with a lecture on geo polymers, limestones, and ancient building materials by the revered Gilberto Quarneti. We learned the steps to make limestone and some of the history behind how the Pantheon was built. Quarneti described how he is attempting to create a more sustainable and less environmentally damaging version of concrete using eggshells and rice pellets, as concrete is responsible for a large percent of carbon footprint. We then went outside to the courtyard for a few demonstrations on how to make mortar. Quarneti and his scholarly assistant giving us a demonstration in the courtyard Reactive parts of mortar mixes The final product of a reaction used to make part of the mortar In the courtyard, we learned how the Pantheon was made using different mineral grains and a model ratio pyramid. First, we saw how the calcium oxide was mixed with water. Then we made the aggregate out of several kinds of minerals. The next step was to mix 1 part calcium hydroxide with 3 parts aggregate. This resulted in mortar once fully mixed. The color came from the fine aggregate that we introduced into the mix. The model ratio pyramid of the aggregate used to make the Pantheon We then attempted to make our own mortar. We tried to make the most sustainable mortar we could come up with based on the materials we had at our disposal. We followed the ratios from the demonstration but used different materials. We spread [...]

By Sophie Cohen ’21

Today began with a lecture on geo polymers, limestones, and ancient building materials by the revered Gilberto Quarneti. We learned the steps to make limestone and some of the history behind how the Pantheon was built. Quarneti described how he is attempting to create a more sustainable and less environmentally damaging version of concrete using eggshells and rice pellets, as concrete is responsible for a large percent of carbon footprint. We then went outside to the courtyard for a few demonstrations on how to make mortar.

Quarneti and his scholarly assistant giving us a demonstration in the courtyard

Reactive parts of mortar mixes

The final product of a reaction used to make part of the mortar

In the courtyard, we learned how the Pantheon was made using different mineral grains and a model ratio pyramid. First, we saw how the calcium oxide was mixed with water. Then we made the aggregate out of several kinds of minerals. The next step was to mix 1 part calcium hydroxide with 3 parts aggregate. This resulted in mortar once fully mixed. The color came from the fine aggregate that we introduced into the mix.

The model ratio pyramid of the aggregate used to make the Pantheon

We then attempted to make our own mortar. We tried to make the most sustainable mortar we could come up with based on the materials we had at our disposal. We followed the ratios from the demonstration but used different materials. We spread the mortar on a brick, and with our leftover mortar we made figurines. Although we thought we were doing a fantastic job, it turns out that most of our mortar would not be sustainable or good for building. Luckily, Quarneti promised he would send us materials and recipes for when we are back at MIT.

The final result

This summer, Professor Admir Masic is leading a program on Materials in Art, Archaeology and Architecture (ONE-MA3), in which MIT undergraduates are conducting three weeks of fieldwork in Privernum, Pompeii and Turin as a prerequisite for the Fall 2018 MIT course, 1.057 Heritage Science and Technology.  The program involves real-world analysis of ancient infrastructures and materials and focus on teaching ways to improve sustainability of the future through the study of ancient successes.

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MIT Great Barrier Reef Initiative – Home, Home on the Range, where the Cows and the Engineers Play

June 24th, 2018Fieldwork, MIT Great Barrier Reef Initiative

By Amber VanHemel '19 After a 45-minute drive, we pulled up to a cattle farm in Woodstock, Australia. However, this is not your typical farm…it is actually a research facility that belongs to Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO) and James Cook University (JCU). While the majority of my summer will be spent working on projects and researching issues relevant to marine ecosystems, I always love opportunities to explore a variety of topics. This willingness to learn and explore is what brought me and four other students from MIT’s Great Barrier Reef Initiative to the Lansdown Pasture Research Station in Woodstock. JCU and CSIRO are collaborating on the Digital Homestead Project, a project that brings together innovative tech and current ranching needs/practices to monitor livestock and understand interactions between the cattle and the environment. Thus far they have conducted a proof-of-concept experiment to explore the capabilities of new monitoring techniques. One of the cows with ear tags at the Lansdown Pasture Research Station (Photo Credit: John Michael Reyes) In Australia, monitoring a cattle’s weight is important because there is a weight range requirement when selling them. If the cow weighs above or below the limits of the range, the farmer can incur hefty fines. Oftentimes, the effort to monitor weight precisely isn’t viewed as worthwhile and farmers will just pay the fines rather than spend the time. At their Lansdown facility, researchers have put RFID identifiers in the ear tags of the cattle. To get to their water trough [...]

By Amber VanHemel ’19

After a 45-minute drive, we pulled up to a cattle farm in Woodstock, Australia. However, this is not your typical farm…it is actually a research facility that belongs to Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO) and James Cook University (JCU). While the majority of my summer will be spent working on projects and researching issues relevant to marine ecosystems, I always love opportunities to explore a variety of topics. This willingness to learn and explore is what brought me and four other students from MIT’s Great Barrier Reef Initiative to the Lansdown Pasture Research Station in Woodstock.

JCU and CSIRO are collaborating on the Digital Homestead Project, a project that brings together innovative tech and current ranching needs/practices to monitor livestock and understand interactions between the cattle and the environment. Thus far they have conducted a proof-of-concept experiment to explore the capabilities of new monitoring techniques.

One of the cows with ear tags at the Lansdown Pasture Research Station (Photo Credit: John Michael Reyes)

In Australia, monitoring a cattle’s weight is important because there is a weight range requirement when selling them. If the cow weighs above or below the limits of the range, the farmer can incur hefty fines. Oftentimes, the effort to monitor weight precisely isn’t viewed as worthwhile and farmers will just pay the fines rather than spend the time. At their Lansdown facility, researchers have put RFID identifiers in the ear tags of the cattle. To get to their water trough they pass over weight sensor next to an RFID reader that simultaneously records the cow’s ID and weight. All of the data is then transferred to a digital dashboard where you can monitor overall trends in cattle health from the comfort of your chair.

The walkover weigh technology. The scale lays on the ground while the large black box attached to the fence contains the RFID reader. Once the weight is recorded and the cow is identified, the solar panel powered box attached to the pole is responsible for transmitting the information wirelessly.

It was interesting to learn about research pertaining to animals, especially larger animals. Animals aren’t like chemicals, materials, or sensors in that they have brains and behavior and thus, are not easily manipulated. In addition to the technical requirements of the project, researchers had to train the cows to walk over the scale since it was not a part of their natural behavior.

Another project at the facility is looking at feeding cows algae mixed with feed. The algae contains a bacteria that can actually reduce the amount of methane, a greenhouse gas, that cows output. Getting cows to eat algal feed is not as simple as putting it in front of them. It needs to be gradually introduced so that they will naturally adopt it into their diet and adjust.

It’s been amazing learning about applications of sensors and other technologies across numerous contexts and disciplines. And while I enjoyed my time out in Woodstock, I am eager to see what this week has in store for me as I head back to the Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS) tomorrow!

Amber VanHemel ’19 is spending the summer in Australia and New Zealand and participating in a new research and engineering project in collaboration with the Australian Institute of Marine Science and James Cook University on the Great Barrier Reef. 

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ONE-MA3 2018: Castle Living

June 21st, 2018Fieldwork, ONE-MA3 2018

By Sophie Cohen '21 The Castle Caetani has been our home for the past week, and we’re finally getting used to living in a medieval castle. The girls live down the steps toward the stables, and the boys off to the side of the dining room. Accommodations are fantastic for a place that only got wifi last Wednesday. We eat at an enormous wooden table that is usually roped off during tours. Our classroom is a high-ceilinged room off to the side of the dining room with a medieval stone fireplace and paintings of crests high up on the walls. The castle has four moats, and looks out onto the medieval town of Sermoneta, in which Italian families still live and work. Sam sitting down for dinner at our dining room table A typical window in the girls’ quarters The highest tower of the castle is protected by all four of the moats. This is where the castle’s owner lived, so that he would be safe during a siege or battle. We toured this tower during our first full day at the castle, and Image 3peered into the rooms in his private quarters that are still roped off to the public. Their ceilings are full of symbolic images painted directly on the walls. Ceilings in one of the rooms in the castle For fun, we hang out on the roof of the castle after dinner, and play music up there. We also try to exercise almost daily. Grace leads workouts [...]

By Sophie Cohen ’21

The Castle Caetani has been our home for the past week, and we’re finally getting used to living in a medieval castle. The girls live down the steps toward the stables, and the boys off to the side of the dining room. Accommodations are fantastic for a place that only got wifi last Wednesday. We eat at an enormous wooden table that is usually roped off during tours. Our classroom is a high-ceilinged room off to the side of the dining room with a medieval stone fireplace and paintings of crests high up on the walls. The castle has four moats, and looks out onto the medieval town of Sermoneta, in which Italian families still live and work.

Sam sitting down for dinner at our dining room table

A typical window in the girls’ quarters

The highest tower of the castle is protected by all four of the moats. This is where the castle’s owner lived, so that he would be safe during a siege or battle. We toured this tower during our first full day at the castle, and Image 3peered into the rooms in his private quarters that are still roped off to the public. Their ceilings are full of symbolic images painted directly on the walls.

Ceilings in one of the rooms in the castle

For fun, we hang out on the roof of the castle after dinner, and play music up there. We also try to exercise almost daily. Grace leads workouts and stretches in the main courtyard, even as tour groups wander by taking photos of us in confusion. Most importantly, we walk into town to get gelato at least once a day. We think we deserve all that gelato after trekking up the hundreds of steps through Sermoneta to the castle more than daily.

The steps leading down to the stables and the girls’ rooms

A view of Sermoneta from one of the moats

Castle Caetani is a fantastic place to live and work. With above average accommodations, a medieval flare, and plenty of historic structures for us to reconstruct via photoscan and cloud compare technologies, we’re having a blast.

But don’t just take my word for it. To better explain how great Castle Caetani, I asked some of my classmates their thoughts on the castle:

“I loves everything about the castle, especially the scenic walk up the stairs.” – Claire Yost

“I love the close proximity to gelato.”  -Sam D’Alonzo

“It’s all about the tall ceilings and the bugs. Also, the sense of royalty.” -Rachel Weismann

AJ Cox and Magreth Kakoko love “the views.” For Clev Cong, the dining room is the best part, while the pasta is Catherine Yang’s favorite. When asked for his favorite, Aaron Brenner responded “the WiFi room,” clearly because he loves to process architectural data! Patricia Gao likes getting lost on the inside. And for Sam Nitz, the “walkways around the top” interest him because they’re so different from American buildings.

So as you can see we are all getting quite comfortable living in a castle!

This summer, Professor Admir Masic is leading a program on Materials in Art, Archaeology and Architecture (ONE-MA3), in which MIT undergraduates are conducting three weeks of fieldwork in Privernum, Pompeii and Turin as a prerequisite for the Fall 2018 MIT course, 1.057 Heritage Science and Technology.  The program involves real-world analysis of ancient infrastructures and materials and focus on teaching ways to improve sustainability of the future through the study of ancient successes.

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MIT Great Barrier Reef Initiative – Koala Sanctuary

June 21st, 2018Fieldwork, MIT Great Barrier Reef Initiative

By Sierra Rosenzweig '20 The MIT Great Barrier Initiative team began working on projects at the Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS) on Tuesday. By the end of the week, research had been initiated on the larvae Crown-of-Thorns starfish, a dangerous species known to overpopulate and destroy regions of the Great Barrier Reef. Engineering of biodegradable surface drifters, used to investigate ocean currents, and remote sea cameras had begun to take shape as well. But the weekend produced time for another project, calling to the wild side of the Environmental Engineers. We got word of a koala sanctuary on Magnetic Island, home to baby and adult koalas that had been injured and rescued by the locals. The sanctuary was in need of help releasing the rescued koalas back into safe habitats, so the team wasted no time and hopped on the first ferry from Townsville to Magnetic Island after work on Friday.  Two baby koalas clutch to a eucalyptus tree in the koala sanctuary  We arrived on the island and headed to one of the koala villages to meet the rescues that they were housing. After hesitating to interact with wild koalas for worry of causing further human-induced stress to an already tense animal, we learned that the rescued koalas enjoyed being held and scratched on the back, and that it could be calming to a worried animal if done gently and correctly. We were allowed to hold the koalas that were too injured to be released back into the [...]

By Sierra Rosenzweig ’20

The MIT Great Barrier Initiative team began working on projects at the Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS) on Tuesday. By the end of the week, research had been initiated on the larvae Crown-of-Thorns starfish, a dangerous species known to overpopulate and destroy regions of the Great Barrier Reef. Engineering of biodegradable surface drifters, used to investigate ocean currents, and remote sea cameras had begun to take shape as well. But the weekend produced time for another project, calling to the wild side of the Environmental Engineers. We got word of a koala sanctuary on Magnetic Island, home to baby and adult koalas that had been injured and rescued by the locals. The sanctuary was in need of help releasing the rescued koalas back into safe habitats, so the team wasted no time and hopped on the first ferry from Townsville to Magnetic Island after work on Friday. 

Two baby koalas clutch to a eucalyptus tree in the koala sanctuary

 We arrived on the island and headed to one of the koala villages to meet the rescues that they were housing. After hesitating to interact with wild koalas for worry of causing further human-induced stress to an already tense animal, we learned that the rescued koalas enjoyed being held and scratched on the back, and that it could be calming to a worried animal if done gently and correctly. We were allowed to hold the koalas that were too injured to be released back into the wild, and were not at risk when becoming too attached to humans.

 

Zoe Lallas of CEE cuddles an adult koala in the koala village

We then visited a koala sanctuary with babies and injured mothers who were being nursed back to health and prepared for release back into the wild. These koalas had to be handled with extreme care as they cannot get too used to human lifestyle before being set loose back into nature. We traveled with the individuals who operated the sanctuary to a spot where the koalas could be safely reintroduced to their natural habitats, and we watched as they were set free, with local children gathering around us in awe. The koalas scurried up the trees, rejuvenated and ready to be home again, as we observed from below, happy that they had been saved and could live a healthy life in the wild.  

A koala caregiver releases a mother koala with the help of local children

 

Sierra Rosenzweig ’20 is spending the summer in Australia and New Zealand and participating in a new research and engineering project in collaboration with the Australian Institute of Marine Science and James Cook University on the Great Barrier Reef. 

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ONE-MA3 2018: Exploring Ninfa

June 21st, 2018Fieldwork, ONE-MA3 2018

By Sophie Cohen '21 Today we began by touring the Ninfa Gardens, which was built on a medieval city that was destroyed in 1382. Our guide explained how the city of Ninfa was a linking point between the swamp area and the medieval world. After its destruction, it was not touched until the 1900s, because the Appia Road was established and there was no longer a need for a swamp city. Enjoying Ninfa The city was abandoned until the beginning of the 20th century, when the Caetani family acquired and restored it as a garden. The land is extremely fertile and all water is drinkable, which allowed us to fill our water bottles in the streams that run through the gardens. A big house from the era of the city of Ninfa Entering Ninfa However, it is difficult to preserve both buildings and vegetation. Normally, one has to remove vegetation from ruins in order to preserve them. But this isn’t the case at Ninfa. The dichotomy of vegetation versus architecture is a big concern and challenge that we are hoping to tackle and solve. Taking notes in the field We spent the rest of the day doing 3D reconstructions of the ruins using XRF, DPI, photogrammetry, and thermo imaging. We were able to capture many of the ruins, including a customs building and a church. Admir taught us about color, dye, and minerals. Overall, it was a successful day in the field. A bamboo forest Part of the garden, which [...]

By Sophie Cohen ’21

Today we began by touring the Ninfa Gardens, which was built on a medieval city that was destroyed in 1382. Our guide explained how the city of Ninfa was a linking point between the swamp area and the medieval world. After its destruction, it was not touched until the 1900s, because the Appia Road was established and there was no longer a need for a swamp city.

Enjoying Ninfa

The city was abandoned until the beginning of the 20th century, when the Caetani family acquired and restored it as a garden. The land is extremely fertile and all water is drinkable, which allowed us to fill our water bottles in the streams that run through the gardens.

A big house from the era of the city of Ninfa

Entering Ninfa

However, it is difficult to preserve both buildings and vegetation. Normally, one has to remove vegetation from ruins in order to preserve them. But this isn’t the case at Ninfa. The dichotomy of vegetation versus architecture is a big concern and challenge that we are hoping to tackle and solve.

Taking notes in the field

We spent the rest of the day doing 3D reconstructions of the ruins using XRF, DPI, photogrammetry, and thermo imaging. We were able to capture many of the ruins, including a customs building and a church. Admir taught us about color, dye, and minerals. Overall, it was a successful day in the field.

A bamboo forest

Part of the garden, which is modeled after the English styled rock garden. Ruins were used instead of rocks

 

This summer, Professor Admir Masic is leading a program on Materials in Art, Archaeology and Architecture (ONE-MA3), in which MIT undergraduates are conducting three weeks of fieldwork in Privernum, Pompeii and Turin as a prerequisite for the Fall 2018 MIT course, 1.057 Heritage Science and Technology.  The program involves real-world analysis of ancient infrastructures and materials and focus on teaching ways to improve sustainability of the future through the study of ancient successes.

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MIT Great Barrier Reef Initiative: Snorkeling in Australia

June 20th, 2018Fieldwork

By Zoe Lallas '20 After traveling for almost 48 hours to get from Chicago to the other side of the world, I met up with the other MIT students to finally unite the MIT Great Barrier Reef Initiative and we quickly headed to Magnetic Island to take in everything we could there. My first full day in Australia can comfortably be called a success – my first ever snorkeling adventure was on the Great Barrier Reef and we saw so many different types of marine life. The variety of coral was amazing and so vivid. We spotted a large grouping of brain coral, housing a plethora of fish and one turtle. The fish were so incredibly colorful, despite how turbid the water seemed as the tide receded. One particularly exciting spot was a porcupine ray, one of the rarer species of sting rays in the world. According to an incredibly knowledgeable woman we went diving with, people often forget that the porcupine ray exists, and it can be identified based on the thorns on its tail and body, as well as its lack of fin folds. We also were able to see several giant clams and many, many other coral spurs and schools of fish. Unfortunately, we had gotten a late start and were already racing the tide from the start. We got a little caught up and carried away at the [...]

By Zoe Lallas ’20

After traveling for almost 48 hours to get from Chicago to the other side of the world, I met up with the other MIT students to finally unite the MIT Great Barrier Reef Initiative and we quickly headed to Magnetic Island to take in everything we could there.

My first full day in Australia can comfortably be called a success – my first ever snorkeling adventure was on the Great Barrier Reef and we saw so many different types of marine life. The variety of coral was amazing and so vivid. We spotted a large grouping of brain coral, housing a plethora of fish and one turtle. The fish were so incredibly colorful, despite how turbid the water seemed as the tide receded.

One particularly exciting spot was a porcupine ray, one of the rarer species of sting rays in the world. According to an incredibly knowledgeable woman we went diving with, people often forget that the porcupine ray exists, and it can be identified based on the thorns on its tail and body, as well as its lack of fin folds. We also were able to see several giant clams and many, many other coral spurs and schools of fish.

Unfortunately, we had gotten a late start and were already racing the tide from the start. We got a little caught up and carried away at the brain coral spur exploring around it and looking at all the different types of fish. On our way back to shore, we swam in about two feet of water over sea vegetation, careful not to disturb any of the marine life in the process.

The dive was, on its own, an amazing experience and definitely set the tone for an exciting and action-packed summer full of learning in the most robust sense. I can’t wait to see what the rest of the summer has in store for the MIT Great Barrier Reef Initiative.

 

Zoe Lallas ’20 is spending the summer in Australia and New Zealand and participating in a new research and engineering project in collaboration with the Australian Institute of Marine Science and James Cook University on the Great Barrier Reef. 

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