Tuesday, February 8, 2011

'Temper Foam' - a Soft Touch

"Everyday Tech From Space: 'Memory Foam' for the Masses"
Denise Chow, Space.com (February 7, 2011)

"Chances are you've encountered something called temper foam, even if you didn't realize it. This foam padding, which absorbs shock while providing comfort and protection, is now widely used almost 50 years after it was developed for NASA.

"Temper foam has padded the helmets of race car drivers and Dallas Cowboys, been used to manufacture comfortable prosthetic limbs, and found its way into shoe insoles so that men and women around the world need not sacrifice style for comfort. Yet it was invented in 1966 for use in NASA's airplane seats.

"Charles Yost was an aeronautical engineer with Systems Dynamics Group at North American Aviation Inc. who in 1962 helped build a recovery system for the Apollo command module, during the agency's lunar landing program...."

The article runs through how this high-tech foam is used - from protective gear to a special obstacle course for returning astronauts.

If you're younger than about 40, you've never lived in a world that didn't have this remarkable stuff in it:

"...The invention was originally referred to as 'slow spring back foam,' because the material flowed to match the contour of whatever was pressing against it – like a mold – and returned to its original shape once the pressure was removed.

"In 1969, Yost formed Dynamic Systems Inc. to sell the technology, which came to be known as 'temper foam.' ..."

Materials technology - the stuff things are made of - has changed a lot since the Lemming started taking notice. In the last 50 years, we've gone from glass bottles to - glass bottles. Some products still come in glass containers - but many more are in bottles made of synthetics that didn't exist back in the 'good old days.'

The Lemming once dropped a grocery bag with a ketchup bottle in it. A glass bottle. Plastic is, in the Lemming's opinion, better.

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