It looks like frozen smoke. And it’s the lightest and lowest density solid material on the planet. Aerogel insulates space suits, makes tennis rackets stronger and could be used one day to clean up oil spills.

Aerogel is made by removing all liquid from silica gel whilst leaving its molecular structure intact. You’ve probably seen silica gel already- you get grains of it in those tiny packets labeled “DO NOT EAT” which you find in things you’ve bought. Inside the aerogel being held in the hand are millions of tiny nanoparticles of silicon dioxide, the same stuff that makes up sand and glass, interconnected.

If you were to take 1g of aerogel and flatten out its nanostructure, you would have something covering the size of an American football field. However, it would be pretty difficult to do that- aerogel can hold up to 4,000 times its own weight in force. 

And yes, in the second GIF above, that IS somebody blowtorching their hand. The only thing separating hand from debilitating hand-death is a thin sheet of ridiculously efficient thermo-insulating aerogel- it’s a terrible heat conductor.



The world’s first digital camera.


Neurological conditions like Parkinson’s disease and essential tremor, a benign trembling of the hands, head, voice, legs or trunk, are heavy burdens in their own right.

But add to that the moments when sufferers try to enjoy a meal with friends or family. The frustration attendant with being unable to keep food on the fork or spoon becomes another consequence of the disorder.

Now a San Francisco startup called Lift Labs is selling a piece of assistive technology that counters hand tremors and lets users have a meal without embarrassment or annoyance. The device, called Liftware, mounts utensils on an active stabilizing platform that diminishes uncontrollable jerking movements. 

This month, Lift Labs is matching donations to its Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign to send Liftware to people in economic hardship. The company will send the devices to the International Essential Tremor Foundation for distribution to those in need. Click through to see the campaign video.

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Know your ports.

Know your ports.

(via dandelion-grave)

This graphics card cooling fan was running in a moderately used computer in one of our laboratories. After the computer stopped booting, we found out that the card in question was completely fried, since the fan stopped working some time ago. Look at the rust inside the thing. Though nor the card or the computer were subjected to moisture, the ambient humidity killed it.