Pentagon And Empire State Building Are Made By Dinosaur-Era Microbes

Posted: Jan 20 2018, 9:54am CST | by , Updated: Jan 20 2018, 10:31am CST, in News | Latest Science News

 
Pentagon and Empire State Building are Made by Dinosaur-Era Microbes
Rogenstein oolite from Germany. Credit: Lannon Harley, ANU

Mathematical model says that Pentagon and Empire State Building were made by mineralized microbes that lived up to 340 million years ago

Researchers have found evidence suggesting that some of the building blocks of Pentagon and Empire State Building are made by more than 300 million-year-old microbes. This implies that the material used in the construction of these popular buildings is ancient, dating back to hundreds of millions of years before dinosaur ruled.

Oolitic limestone is a popular building material around the world and the material, as the name suggests, contains millimeter-sized spherical grains of carbonate called ooids. Although ooids have been known since ancient times yet there is no universally accepted explanation for their origin. The most widespread theory says that ooids were formed by grains rolling on the seafloor and accumulating layers of sediment during snowball Earth, a time when the Earth was covered by ice. However, latest effort contradicts this theory.

“We have proposed a radically different explanation for the origin of ooids that explains their definitive features," said Dr Burne from the ANU Research School of Earth Sciences. "Our research has highlighted yet another vital role that microbes play on Earth and in our lives."

To arrive at the conclusion, researchers developed a mathematical model for ooid growth. The method is inspired by the mathematical model developed in 1972 for the growth of some brain tumors.

“In our model we hypothesize that the overall growth of ooids is similar to that of vascular tumors, where growth occurs in a nutrient-limited environment. We suppose that ooids form in a biofilm whose growth is dependent on the take up of diffusing nutrients at a constant rate per unit time.” Authors wrote in the study.

By applying the model, researchers predicted a limiting size of ooids and attempted to track their origin.

“Many oolitic limestones form excellent building stones, because they are strong and lightweight,” said Dr Burne.

"Mississippian oolite found in Indiana in the US has been used to build parts of the Pentagon in Virginia and parts of the Empire State Building in New York City. Jurassic oolite in England has been used to construct Buckingham Palace and much of the City of Bath, the British Museum and St Paul's Cathedral."

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