Aerogel is usually the preserve of expensive laboratory experiments—but what if you could make it from trash? Now, a team of researchers has developed a technique to turn scrap paper into an incredibly light, highly insulating super material.
This is the least dense gold nugget in the entire world. It can be held up with a feather. And it’s supported by a space-age material often dubbed “frozen smoke.”
The first time I held a piece of aerogel was one of those reality-bending experiences that reorganizes the molecules of your brain a little. It was a block about the size of a Rubix Cube, it looked like a faint wisp of cloud, and it weighed nothing. Not literally nothing—but so little that my body could not perceive…
Back in 1999, the Stardust mission launched to trap particles of a comet and return the sample to Earth. The Stardust spacecraft made its scheduled rendezvous with Comet Wild 2 in 2004, captured comet-dust in aerogel, and successfully returned the samples.
Red hot nickel ball of fire meet your toughest opponent yet: aerogel. In fact, aerogel is such an amazing material and excellent insulator that the eternal flame of the nickel ball does absolutely nothing to it. Like, seriously. It affects the aerogel as much as the normal air around it (or in it too?). But hey. We're…
This is a bit of comet dust trapped in aerogel. Capturing the stardust in this way reveals something new and fascinating about what's inside of comets — but it also looks really cool.
At this point, it'd be more of a surprise if graphene wasn't an integral part of a mind-bending, record-setting new technology. But, of course, it is. Again. Enter the lightest material in the world: graphene aerogel.
If the object of your affection cares more about chemistry and physics than chocolate and flowers, for $75 you can skip the card and get them this tiny aerogel heart that weighs next to nothing.
It doesn't exactly herald a new era of fossil-fuel free transportation, but this experiment showing a tiny aerogel boat zipping along for almost an hour on a drop of ethanol could lead to new ways of thinking about boat propulsion.
Jason Wells got to toy around with a few blocks of Aerogel, the fantastically light (and fantastically expensive) material made famous by its use as insulation in NASA spacecraft like the Mars Rover. Using just everyday materials from his house, he managed to test the futuristic product's strength, optical properties,…