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Silly String

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eleanorburke
1357098.  Thu Aug 27, 2020 5:23 am Reply with quote

Silly string is a familiar sight for many of us at birthdays, weddings or other festive occasions. But the original purpose of this brightly coloured, plastic string, fired from an aerosol can was not "silly" at all...

In 1972, Leonard A. Fish and Robert P. Cox were attempting to create an instant cast that you could spray at broken limbs. After dozens of tests, they finally came upon a nozzle that could emit a consistent string but it shot the string 30 feet across the room. Fish and Cox sold the patent to toy manufacturer Wham-O and within weeks silly string was available to purchase.

Today, the string does have another, more serious purpose. It is used by the military to detect trip wires or explosive booby traps. It is sprayed over the suspected area and if the string falls to the earth, no tripwires are present. If it hangs in the air, the troops know that the otherwise invisible tripwires lie ahead. Since the string is so light, it is able to catch a tripwire and show where the trap lies without activating the explosives themselves.


Sources:
https://www.shortlist.com/news/silly-string-invented-real-reason#:~:text=Originally%20patented%20in%201972%2C%20Silly,to%20create%20an%20instant%20cast.
https://www.greatbigstory.com/stories/a-hilarious-history-the-story-of-silly-string
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Silly_String
https://www.cbsnews.com/news/a-serious-use-for-silly-string/

 
Jenny
1357127.  Thu Aug 27, 2020 9:49 am Reply with quote

That is interesting - I've never heard that before.

 
CB27
1357143.  Thu Aug 27, 2020 12:07 pm Reply with quote

I knew about the use for detecting tripwires, it's common knowledge for some militaries. I didn't know about the original intent.

 

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