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“Concrete,” from “concretus,” past participle of the latin verb concrescere, meaning “to join together” or “to unite in growth.” These definitions from Webster's Unabridged Dictionary emphasize that “concrete” is essentially a verbform, not a noun, and that the word denotes a method or an operation, not a substance. It defines a process rather than a material. Or, more informatively, concrete is a mass of materials characterized principally by the manner in which they are united to form a functional composite. The materials involved are as diverse and numerous as may be required to serve the designer's ultimate purpose. These materials are not categorically limited to any particular classes, species, or forms. The common characteristic of all concreted masses lies in the presence of a continuous matrix, or “cement,” which binds together all of the individually discrete constituents. Currently, in building and construction, this cement, for economic reasons, is usually composed largely of an intimate combination of hydrated alkyline and alkaloidal alumino-silicates which may be modified, extended, or replaced chemically or physically, either unavoidably or in some desirable degree, by an unlimited variety of other substances. The cement performs its functions principally by means of complex adhesive and cohesive forces which are not well understood.
Bates, A. Allan
Chief, Nat. Bureau of Standards, Washington, D.C.