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Cool Tech of the Day
Bar Harbor
Translucent Concrete

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Damn, that's cool.

Must cost a fortune, though.

Yeah, pricey. And it looks like it would only be useful on the sides of buildings that get direct sun -- not useful in a city canyon area.

Nonetheless, extremely cool. I am reminded of "slow glass."

I'm reminded of "transparent aluminum", myself. ;-)

This could have some interesting artistic uses. Imagine a sculpture done partly in translucent concrete--say, a translucent body with an opaque red heart on the inside; or an opaque nude inside translucent clothes; or an opaque human head inside a translucent cat's head. The inner parts wouldn't be seen clearly; but the outlines would probably be perceptible. Sure, you can get similar effects with glass, but this would be durable enough for public statuary.

And I'm not sure it would be all that expensive; concrete is cheap, and fiber-optic cable is cheap. Getting the fiber into the concrete is probably just a matter of setting up a frame to hold the fiber and then pouring the concrete. (If someone came up with a high-melting-point fiber, the same could be done with steel instead of concrete.)

And, if you're making a wall, there's no reason the fibers have to be perpendicular to the wall; you could have them cross in an X inside the wall, so that someone standing on the north end of the outside of the wall casts a shadow at the south end of the inside, and vice versa. (This one, like the sculptures, requires that you cast the concrete on-site, instead of using premade blocks as the article talks about.) You could build a south-facing wall that produces the illusion that the sun is moving from west to east over the day.

That's extraordinarily neat, and deserves to be a major success if they can get the prices right.

That said, it raises a few odd questions. For example, I would assume that the fibers are bidirectional. So if it's nighttime, and the lights are on in the house, can those outside see shadows of what's happening inside? That raises the strange prospect of having to draw curtains over your walls...

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