Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Ode

Forbes Magazine has just come out with the list of the World's Most Important Tools. One was not on the list, but got its own article.

Models use it to create cleavage. Sled-dog drivers use it to prevent frostbite. Athletes use it to support weak joints. Veterinarians use it to repair horses' hooves.

What's this wonder tool? Duct tape.

The men in my family would heartily concur. According to my Dear Brother-in-Law, "If it can't be fixed with duct tape, it can't be fixed." We always have a roll of duct tape in the house.

Ironically, duct tape is great for everything but ducts.

In 1998, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory physicists Max Sherman and Lain Walker tested a variety of sealing materials on sheet metal ducting, then heated and cooled the ducts to simulate the aging process. They soon found that duct tape leaked air so badly much of the cooling and heating was wasted -- and that the tape frequently shrunk, dried up or separated.

"It failed reliably and often quite catastrophically," says Sherman. "And nothing else except duct tape failed."

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