Aerogel: The lightest solid known to man

09 May 16

This remarkable gel is the world’s lightest solid

Since its invention in 1931 by American scientist Samuel Kistler, it has been used in space missions to collect dust from a comet’s tail, by government agencies for developing insulated tents, and even for manufacturing clothing that protects a person from extreme heat.

NASA has nicknamed it bluesmoke because it kind of looks like a hologram.

What makes this substance so cool lies in its seemingly paradoxical properties. This hard gel is mostly air and therefore extremely lightweight, not unlike a sponge. But it is also very good at repelling heat. As you can see in the image below, it can protect a flower from a strong flame.

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