Aug 21, 2007

Unspeakably cool 

Whatever you thought the most awesome stuff on the planet was, you were wrong. The correct answer is this:
Aerogel, one of the world's lightest solids, can withstand a direct blast of 1 kilogram of dynamite and protect against heat from a blowtorch at more than 2,400 degrees Fahrenheit.
Mark Krajewski, a senior scientist at the company, believes that an 18 mm (three-quarters of an inch) layer of aerogel would be sufficient to protect astronauts from temperatures as low as minus 200 degrees Fahrenheit.

"It is the greatest insulator we've ever seen," he said.

Aerogel is also being tested for future bombproof housing and armor for military vehicles. In the laboratory, a metal plate coated in 6 mm (a quarter of an inch) of aerogel was left almost unscathed by a direct dynamite blast.
All it mentions is blast damage, not frag. But if you overcome that, you've got your next-gen body armor - feather light and hard as nails. Only one problem: you can't deploy it to Iraq...
Last year Anne Parmenter, a British mountaineer, climbed Mt. Everest using boots that had aerogel insoles, as well as sleeping bags padded with the material.

She said at the time: "The only problem I had was that my feet were too hot, which is a great problem to have as a mountaineer."

However, it has failed to convince the fashion world. Hugo Boss created a line of winter jackets out of the material, but had to withdraw them after complaints that they were too hot.
...but it should do just fine somewhere like Afghanistan in winter...

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