Sunday, August 19, 2007

Aerogel: The New Best Thing

Aerogel, sometimes called frozen smoke, has apparently became the newest, greatest invention yet. Invented by Steven Kistler back in 1931 as a by product of a bet, it has since been improved upon and caught the eye of NASA. At first it was brittle and hardly usable outside of the laboratory due to the expense. Since then NASA has taken a hold of it by way of their startup company Aspen Aerogel; vast improvements have been made and they are incorporating it into spacesuits to be worn by astronauts on the 2018 mission to Mars. Aside from that, it is said to be able to withstand a direct blast from dynamite as well as up to 2372 degrees Farenheit. It is said to be the best insulator known to man and can also mop up oil spills and strengthen tennis raquets among other things. It is the least dense product known to man. This appears to be the new best thing to hit the market since silicon or earlier "new best things" such as the bakelite of the 30's or carbon fibers of the 90's.

You can read more here.

Some questions:
-If this product is all it is cracked up to be, when will be start seeing it in everyday application?
-Why now the buzz when this product was invented back in the 1930's?
-Do you see any use you might have for this product?


B Nettles said...

It is the least dense product known to man. Maybe we could inject this into people's brains before explaining the doctrines of Grace.

Seriously, if it is less dense than styrofoam you could make superthin life preservers that wouldn't need to be inflated.

The statements about being brittle and withstanding a blast of dynamite seem antithetical to me. Did I miss something?

j razz said...

Yes, it used to be brittle. It has since been improved upon by NASA to give us what we have today. It used to be filled with a gel but now is filled with a gas such as carbon dioxide and apparently this makes a big difference in the strength of the substance.

j razz