Friday, January 28, 2011

Tar Story

Natural Pine Tar Pitch

The disaster is an inheritance, a (mis)trust fund supplied through tradition.  Event (Ereignis) refers to this received decision, what is given as gift, a duty to be paid by receiver.  In the event of the Cabot Koppers site in Gainesville, the activity resulting in pollution began in 1911, and the pitch pine tar was used to treat utility poles.  "Pine tar is a byproduct formed as the result of distilling pine wood at high temperatures, forcing it to decompose. Once the wood breaks down, it results in the formation of charcoal and a gum-like substance, tar. When the tar is further distilled, oils are removed from it, creating the byproduct pine tar pitch." The history of this product goes back six centuries, with the original use being the treatment of ship hulls.  Pine tar is an important link in the story of invention tracked in episode seven ("The Long Chain") of Connections (James Burke), and is a good example of technics, referring to the autonomous, interdependent ontologies of technology and humans.  The original source of pine tar (Scandinavian forests) used by the British and other European fleets was cut off due to war, replaced by the colonies as primary supplier, primarily the Southern states.  The evolution of inventions, passing through a series of accidents, mistakes, chance connections traced by Burke passes on from pine tar through coal tar eventually on to plastics.

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