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Activated Complex

Configurations that atoms pass through during a chemical reaction

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Too Noisy for Combat

Too Noisy for Combat

Credit: Elmira College
Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/elmiracollege/3549006879/
License: CC BY-NC 3.0

No, the person in the picture above is not defying gravity. He is jumping at a wall made of a certain material, while wearing a suit of the same material. The unique structure of the Velcro® allows them to stick to the wall.

News You Can Use

  • The development of Velcro® came about as Georges de Mestral, a Swiss engineer, became curious about the burrs that stuck to his clothes and the hair of his dog when they hiked. He examined the burrs under a microscope and saw the unique structure.
  • de Mestral realized that this material would make a good fastener, so he set about to develop a synthetic product. Initial attempts used cotton, but de Mestral found that nylon worked better. He formally patented the product in 1955, naming it as a combination of the words “velvet” and “crochet”.
  • The “hook and eye” construction allows the two parts of the material to join together as a unit, but the system can then revert to the original two separate components with the application of a small amount of tension.
  • Credit: Andrew Magill
    Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/amagill/89623378/
    License: CC BY-NC 3.0

    The closer look at the hooks side of Velcro® [Figure2]

  • The military used Velcro® as a fastener for uniforms and boots, but had to find other approaches after the U.S. became involved in desert warfare. The dust interfered with good fastening and undoing the strip was noisy, giving away troop positions to the enemy.
  • Read this article describing the manufacture of this material: http://www.ehow.com/about_6319865_velcro-manufactured_.html

Can You Apply It?

Use the links below to learn more. Then answer the following questions.

  1. How does Velcro® resemble an activated complex?
  2. How does NASA use Velcro®?
  3. Why did de Mestral switch to nylon from cotton?
  4. What were problems in using Velcro® in military uniforms that ultimately led to it being discontinued for this application?

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Image Attributions

  1. [1]^ Credit: Elmira College; Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/elmiracollege/3549006879/; License: CC BY-NC 3.0
  2. [2]^ Credit: Andrew Magill; Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/amagill/89623378/; License: CC BY-NC 3.0

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