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Book Explores the Power of Rust

In his book Rust: The Longest War, Jonathan Waldman takes us chapter by chapter into the world of oxidation and the problem of rust. He tells the story of how America almost lost the Statue of Liberty to corrosion, the constant struggle needed to maintain oil pipe lines, the development of stainless steel and rust resistant paint, how aluminum cans are treated to deter oxidation, and of the enormous cost and effort needed to beat back rust in the military—especially the navy's ships.

Rust isn't just annoying; it's expensive and dangerous. But rust happens and we can't stop it. For instance, on August 1, 2007, a bridge spanning the Mississippi in Minnesota suddenly collapsed during the evening rush hour. The bridge, identified as Bridge 9340 in official records, was rated as the second busiest in the entire state, with 140,000 vehicles crossing it every day. One hundred eleven vehicles rode the surface of the bridge down as much as 115 feet to the surface of the water and riverbank, with 13 people killed and 145 injured. A school bus with 63 children returning from a field trip ended up resting on a guardrail at the bottom.

The collapsed bridge over Mississippi had one cause: oxidation. Iron (in the soil and the bridge gussets) reacted chemically with oxygen and the result is a reddish product that eats and destroys that we call rust.

Possible Preaching Angles: Jesus told us that the same thing would happen to our possessions—as beautiful as they look now, everything we own will be subject to the power of rust.

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