Filed under: engineering your doom, evil biology | Tags: body armor, gila monsters, guard pets, tee shirts
The first thing anybody will tell you about raising bloodthirsty radioactive gila monsters to guard your subterranean lair (aside from “that’s madness, Dr. Rocket, they’ll tear you to bits!”) is that you’ve got to suit up: layer upon layer of bulky, unflattering body armor to make sure that the Gila monster doesn’t poison you with its deadly venom. And that armor doesn’t breathe at all.
But wait! Thanks to some new research from the University of South Carolina, the roly-poly lizard-keeper look may soon be a thing of the past. Dr. Xiaodong Li has found that an ordinary cotton T-shirt doped with boron can turn into a material comparable to the armor used on tanks.
The process is simple, too – nothing you can’t do at home, assuming you live in a well-stocked underground laboratory. All you have to do is preheat your oven to 2012 degrees Fahrenheit, dip the tees in a boron solution, and bake (in argon gas, to keep the shirts from burning) until the cotton fibers turn into carbon fibers and bond with the boron to create boron carbide. Remove from heat, cool on wire rack until wearable, and then sport your spiffy new duds anywhere you think you might get ripped to shreds by venomous beasts.
Unfortunately, the heavy-duty tees are far from being ready for me to wear to the Gila monster pit (or for Dr. Li’s original intent: as body armor for armed forces or police). But early results are already lighter and stretchier than the presently available boron carbide plate body armor. And when you’re training any sort of man-eating monster, maneuverability is key, so let’s hope that Dr. Li’s research gets us somewhere.
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