Smart Bricks

Smart Bricks

Sunday, June 6, 2004
| Proverbs 8:1-4, 22-31

Bricklaying and brick-making are technologies that are 6,400 years old. Now engineers at the University of Illinois are working on “smart bricks” that can relay information to firemen and engineers about the structural integrity of a building. If bricks can be smart, with the help of what Proverbs calls “Wisdom,” so can we.

Dumb as a brick.

We’ve heard this expression applied to television personalities, rock stars, certain types of dogs, and any number of people who tumbled out of the stupid tree and hit every branch on the way down.

What these words don’t necessarily describe any longer is … bricks.

In redesigning the brick, Professor Chang Liu at the University of Illinois is messing with a technology that is 6,400 years old. Chang’s new brick is filled with electronic sensors that can continuously monitor the structural health of a building. Such a smart brick can be a real asset in terms of routine maintenance and safety in emergencies.

Chang points to the World Trade Center disaster and structural damage in California earthquakes. You can just imagine how differently firefighters would have responded if they had been able to pull up to the site and immediately get a reading of the buildings’ structural integrity. If they had known a little more about vibrations and temperatures inside the skyscrapers,...

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