Odds and Ends, Randomly Useful and Totally Useless Ideas and Information

Monthly Archives: March 2018

Aerogel is made from Silicon Dioxide, the same material as ordinary glass, only 1,000 times less dense.

Developed by NASA, Aerogel is the lightest and lowest-density solid known to exist. A truly remarkable material, Aerogel holds an unbelievable 15 entries in the Guinness Book of World Records, including best insulator and lowest density solid.

Aerogel is composed of amorphous Silicon Dioxide, and 99.8% Air. Its melting point is 2,200 degrees F (1,200 degrees C). Being the world’s lightest known solid, it weighs only three times that of air (with a density of just 3 milligrams per cubic centimeter).

When handled, Aerogel feels like a very light, hard foam. Being chemically similar to glass, it also happens to shatter like glass, yet is incredibly strong structurally, and can support thousands of times its own weight. Theoretically, a block weighing less than a pound could support a weight of half a ton.

Due to its microstructure, Aerogel is a powerful desiccant, rapidly absorbing any moisture in your fingertips when held. This usually leaves some dry spots on the skin that disappear in a short time.

Aerogel’s true strength is its incredible insulating properties. It negates just about any kind of energy transfer – thermal, electrical or acoustic. A one-inch thick Aerogel window has the same insulation value as 15 panes of glass and trapped air – which means a conventional window would have to be ten-inches thick to equal a one-inch thick Aerogel window.

But Wait! There’s More!

Chinese material scientists have created the world’s lightest material: A graphene aerogel that is seven times lighter than air, and 12% lighter than the previous record holder (aerographite). A cubic centimeter of the graphene aerogel weighs just 0.16 milligrams — or, if you’re having a problem conceptualizing that, a cubic meter weighs just 160 grams (5.6 ounces). The graphene aerogel is so light that an cube inch of the stuff can be balanced on a blade of grass, the stamen of a flower, or the fluffy seed head of a dandelion.

Most aerogels are produced using a sol-gel process, where a gel is dehydrated until only the aerogel remains. Some aerogels are also produced using the template  method — aerographite, for example, is created by growing carbon on a lattice (template) of zinc oxide crystals — and then the zinc oxide is removed in an oven, leaving just the carbon aerogel.

To create the graphene aerogel, however, researchers at Zhejiang University use a novel freeze-drying method. Basically, it seems like the researchers  create a solution of graphene and carbon nanotubes, pour it into a mold, and then freeze dry it. Freeze drying dehydrates the solution, leaving single-atom-thick layers of graphene, supported by carbon nanotubes. The researchers say that there’s no limit to the size of the container: You could make a mini graphene aerogel using this process, or a meter-cubed aerogel if you wish.

Sources: Extreme Tech and Facebook 🙂

On April 16, 1953, following the death of the Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin, President Dwight D. Eisenhower spoke to the American Society of Newspaper Editors about peace. In this “Chance for Peace Speech,” the president outlined the cost of war as it related to what was being taken away from the American people who bore the cost of it. Here is the most important and most recognized part of this speech:

Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed.

This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children.

The cost of one modern heavy bomber is this: a modern brick school in more than 30 cities.

It is two electric power plants, each serving a town of 60,000 population.

It is two fine, fully equipped hospitals. It is some 50 miles of concrete highway.

We pay for a single fighter plane with a half million bushels of wheat.

We pay for a single destroyer with new homes that could have housed more than 8,000 people.

This, I repeat, is the best way of life to be found on the road the world has been taking.

This is not a way of life at all, in any true sense. Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron.

The war images used above are from the war in Syria. I used them because they are images of what is happening in the here and now. Other older war photos are as follows:

Here’s a video excerpt of the speech in case you want to hear and see it. Interestingly, Ike was a Five Star General, a Republican and  a Hawk in his time. Yet this common sense was and largely has been ignored.

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