Friday, May 16, 2014

A fun polymer story + media criticism by The Rheo Thing

The New York Times has a great opening for its story on IBM's new polymer discovery that has been published in Science: 
As a research chemist at an IBM laboratory, Jeannette M. Garcia spends her days mixing and heating chemicals in pursuit of stronger and more easily recyclable plastics. Recently she followed a simple formula that required mixing three components in a beaker. Somehow she missed a step, leaving out a chemical. She returned to find her beaker filled with a hard white plastic that had even frozen the stirrer. 
Dr. Garcia tried grinding the mystery material, to no avail. Then she took a hammer to the beaker to free it. 
That laboratory error has led to the discovery of a new family of materials that are unusually strong and light, exhibit “self-healing” properties and can be easily reformed to make products recyclable.
There have been other news outlets have been a little more hype-driven; John Spevacek takes them to task.  


  1. The most remarkable aspect of this paper is that they managed to publish their formaldehyde-diamine thermoset resin chemistry in Nature, in 2014.

  2. I would hope that if my materials ever showed up in a media frenzy that I would have the humility to correct them on the overblown hype.

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