Meet aerogel, science’s new darling. It is the world’s lowest density solid. In other words, aerogel is mad light and can hold heavy shit. It also looks cool.
Here’s some aerogel in action:
[youtube width=”600″ height=”400″]http://youtu.be/kHnen2nSmDY[/youtube]
But what does it do? What is it for? Why does its name remind me so much of Aero candy bars?
Says WebUrbanist: “Aerogel can be made from carbon, silica or alumina, though all of them have similar properties. They feel like unbelievably light Styrofoam, but it is strong enough to hold up impressively heavy loads… They are currently being used by NASA to capture space dust for study; the dust would be decimated by solids and pass through gases, but aerogel captures it perfectly… Aerogels can also be used for chemical spill clean-ups, thermal protection for divers, residential roof insulators, and as thickeners in paint and cosmetics. With more applications being discovered every year, it seems likely that aerogels will become one of the most significant inventions of all time.”
Says I: food is always on my mind.
Hopefully all of your questions are answered now.
I don’t completely understand what this can be used for, but if it fails in the science world I hope it is marketed as a toy for kids. Remember Squand? Floam? Gak? Or (my favorite) Slime? They must have started in a lab somewheres. Hell, the sticky stuff on Post-it notes was developed by scientists hoping to create the strongest glue in the world (that shit won’t even stick to my computer monitor)!
You crazy science types can order some Aerogel for yourselves here. Apparently it’s more brittle than Sally Fields’ skeleton without Boniva, so be careful now!
Photos via WebUrbanist.