Tired of Silk? Try Asbestos Lingerie
Ah, science. Thou art awesome, but occasionally you do lead us astray. A Popular Science article from 1929 predicts that 'silk' gowns made out of asbestos may be the next major fashion fad.
The article begins: Shimmering dresses that look like silk but are insulated against acid and fire were forecast recently by Professor Paul Q. Card of the industrial chemistry department of the Philadelphia College of Pharmacy and Science, who believes we shall eventually wear asbestos clothes.
It goes on to say: Professor Card believes it will be possible to produce... lustrous cloth resembling silk but having the wearing quality of the homespun of frontier days. Such material, he suggests, could be sponged clean with a wet cloth and would cost less than other materials of which clothes are now made.
It sounded like a perfect solution at the time, it was just a bit of a pity that asbestos turned out to be a horrible carcinogen.
As the ATSDR notes: When asbestos fibers are inhaled, most fibers are expelled, but some can become lodged in the lungs and remain there throughout life. Fibers can accumulate and cause scarring and inflammation. Enough scarring and inflammation can affect breathing, leading to disease.
What a downer. We find a material that can make silky smooth, durable, fire proof and acid proof clothing and it turns out to give you cancer. Typical. Mother Nature has a bizzare sense of humor it would seem. Things that taste good make you fat and kill you, things that feel good (like rampant relations with lots of people) give you horrid diseases, and clothes that will protect you from a raging inferno and an acid storm at the same time turn out to be carcinogenic. What can we learn from this? If it feels good and is easy, run, run far away, because it's a trap! Eat bland foods, wear mildly uncomfortable clothing and always protect yourself with several coats of latex before touching another human being.
Fortunately, those who like silky smooth lingerie can still buy silk lingerie, or nylon lingerie if they want to save a little bit of cash. Neither will protect you from acid though, which is just disappointing. Silk, Nylon, I give you a B-, you could achieve so much more if you just tried a little harder.
Those interested in Popular Science can now read the entire archive, that's over 130 years of science, absolutely free!
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