Entry 653: Black is the New Black

Hello, boys and girls! It’s Mr. Sciencemoron, back again with the latest developments from the world of “why would you want to do something like that?”

Previously, I’ve reported on “pure” science like banging atoms into each other and creating new and possibly world-ending elements. But today, I want to show you how you can make BIG MONEY with science. In order to do that, you have to use science to invent stuff.

For instance, let’s start in the fashion industry. You know that little black dress you love? (Yes, Jimmy, I’m talking to you.) Well, you’ll have to give it away to a homeless person now, so she can wear it to her next cocktail party.

The reason your timeless dress is suddenly dated is that scientists have invented something called Vantablack, a material made from tiny carbon nanotubes (dry clean only) that can absorb up to 99.96 percent of the light that contacts it. That means this black is really black. In fact, Vantablack is, quite literally, the new black.

You can hold onto your current dress for awhile, though (even though everybody has seen you in it), because the initial uses for Vantablack will be in astronomical and military functions such as lining telescopes to absorb extra light and putting up Vantablack on rock walls in Afghanistan to make insurgents think they are driving into a cave.

Of course, if you were to wear a Vantablack outfit, while you might look absolutely stunning, you would not be invisible, not even at night. For that, you would need the invisibility cloak developed by scientists at the Queen Mary University of London (motto: “Not affiliated with any cruise ship.”). Because they are British, using carbon nanotubes is beneath them, so their invisibility cloak uses a “nanocomposite medium” that makes an object “appear flat to electromagnetic waves.”

Mr. Sciencemoron will now translate that into layman’s terms even you can understand. Basically, they’ve figured out how to paint a tennis ball so you can’t see it. The affect, I imagine, is very similar to how a tennis ball would appear if served toward me by Roger Federer, except the painted tennis ball wouldn’t even need to be moving. Here you see the University’s depiction of “the cloak in action.” They haven’t gotten it to work on anything larger than a tennis ball yet, which is just as well, because you’d probably really like to see that soccer ball before it hits you in the face. Once they perfect their invisibility cloak, however, the uses will be obvious.

But not all new inventions are for people who want to walk through locker rooms unnoticed. Here’s one that may help everyone who flies long distances: a cure for jet lag. I’m not talking about the kinds of tips you find online, like wearing sunglasses on the plane. That will just make people think you’re an asshole.

Scientists have discovered a gene that affects sleep patterns and believe they can cure jet lag by creating drugs to manipulate that gene. They’ve tested this on fruit flies with great success although, because of their short life span, many of the flies died before reaching their destination, and one actually got pulled off a United flight.

I don’t know about you, boys and girls, but Mr. Sciencemoron would prefer to stagger around incoherently for a day rather than have his genes manipulated. I mean, if they learn how to cure cancer by altering some DNA, fine. But I don’t think I’d risk some odd mutation just to cure jet lag. (“Welcome to L.A., Mr. Sciencemoron. You look so alert–none of your eyes is bloodshot!”)

Finally, we travel to Sweden where, after a nice, long nap, we will visit the headquarters of a company called Epicenter. Now, if you’ve ever worked for a corporation, you’ve probably been issued some sort of electronic card so you can open doors, or use the copier, or go to the bathroom. When Mr. Sciencemoron last worked in an office environment, we had these thick, heavy magnetic “Schlage” cards that you had to hold up to a plate near the door. People would keep them in their pockets, and if your hands were full when you wanted to open a door, you’d jump up against the little square on the wall and try to hit it with whatever pocket your card was in. This was not conducive to maintaining a professional appearance and impressing the cute receptionist.

But Mr. Sciencemoron hasn’t worked in an office environment for over 25 years, which is probably a good thing, because of all the times he would have been sued. Now, companies like Epicenter have figured out how to do away with all the cards and the bumping and the swiping. Instead, they use a microchip. Even better, they put the microchip in you. This will not only allow for hands-free access to the office, it will probably allow your employer to know exactly how long you spend on bathroom breaks and playing games on your computer.

Of course, the big advantage is that they’ll be able to quickly find you if you ever get off your leash.

See you soon.

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