Why Roman buildings like the Pantheon are still standing

Why Roman buildings like the Pantheon are still standing

A version of this story appeared in CNN’s science newsletter Wonder Theory. To get it in your inbox, Register here for free.


Welcome to a new year where new wonders are already waiting for you.

Rome has often been referred to as the Eternal City. The ancient Romans took pride in their metropolis, regarding it as an unshakable pinnacle, and poets such as Virgil and Ovid made similar allusions in their works to continue this idea.

The revolutionary buildings of the imperial capital served multiple purposes, and even those that have faded over time are enjoying a new lease of life thanks to restorers and archaeologists – and our enduring fascination.

The Pantheon remains one of Rome’s most enduring wonders. Its oculus, like the eye for which it is named, opens to the sky, letting in both sunlight and torrential rain. When you stand under the wonder, you can almost feel the world turning.

The old building still holds many secrets, but researchers may have just uncovered one of them.

The Pantheon is located in the center of Rome.

With the world’s largest unreinforced concrete dome, the Pantheon was one of the architectural feats of antiquity and its prestige has survived to this day.

More than 2,000 years after the temple was built, the majestic edifice and other concrete Roman structures such as the Colosseum and aqueducts still stand tall.

In contrast, modern concrete can crumble in just a few decades. How did the ancient Romans do it?

New research suggests their innovative concrete mix — a Roman invention — contained a mysterious ingredient. Revitalizing the use of the nondescript white chunks in concrete could make today’s cement more sustainable.

As you make healthy resolutions this year, don’t forget to include your pet. Cats and dogs need exercise just like humans.

Dogs benefit from two daily walks where you can get some fresh air with them. Cats can use their zoomies when playing with interactive toys.

Mental exercise is also great for cats and dogs. Try making a cheap, easy DIY food puzzle to keep your pet’s brain busy.

The JUICE mission will explore Jupiter and some of its moons, as shown in this image.

Get ready for a year of exciting space missions and exploration like never before.

The four-man crew of the Artemis II mission, scheduled to orbit the moon in 2024, is expected to be announced in the coming months.

The European Space Agency plans to launch the Jupiter Icy Moons Explorer mission in April. The goal is to study whether the oceans of Jupiter and three of its icy moons could support life.

The much-anticipated samples collected from the asteroid Bennu by the OSIRIS-REx mission in 2020 are scheduled to arrive on Earth in September. And the Psyche mission launch window opens in October to send a spacecraft to its namesake asteroid – an all-metal world completely unexplored.

Our Stone Age ancestors probably wore cave bear skins 300,000 years ago.

Direct evidence of prehistoric clothing is hard to find, but archaeologists in Germany discovered cut marks on a cave bear paw that suggest the animals were skinned for their fur.

A cave bear was about the size of a modern polar bear, and the species became extinct around 25,000 years ago. The powerful animal’s thick fur would have provided early humans with the right amount of insulation from the elements.

Some of the oldest known wooden weapons were also discovered in the Schöningen site where the paw was found.

A snowy owl has been spotted in Cypress, California.

Hedwig, is that you?

A rare snowy owl has settled among the palm trees in Southern California. The distinctive bird of prey, native to the arctic tundra, was first spotted in Cypress, California, in mid-December — and birdwatchers flock to see it, sometimes traveling hundreds of miles for a glimpse of the “amazing” sight catch .

Snowy owls are found in northern Canada, but typically the southern limit for their winter migration is the northern United States.

Experts aren’t sure why or how the fascinating bird appeared in sunny SoCal, but they have a few theories about how the owl’s migration got out of hand. For now, all indications are that the bird is healthy and well fed during its visit to the west coast.

Here are other stories that caught our attention:

— Astronomers have shared a new glittering image of the far end of the Serpens constellation, where stars are born.

– A wildlife rehabilitator nursed more than 1,600 frozen bats back to health in her attic after many fell from their roosts under Houston’s bridges during December’s Arctic blast.

— Ice Age hunter-gatherers may have used lines, dots, and other symbols on cave walls to communicate with one another in an early form of writing — and it may have been similar to how we use emojis.

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