Then images of war or conflict zones are beamed into various media, what we get is the impression of heavily laden soldiers wearing all sorts of gear – aside from their standard bullet-proof vests and helmets – that add up to a hefty 10 – 20 kg more.
This load will break the back of average Joes like you and me, and would never do for those of us who seek extra protection from predators lurking in the urban or suburban jungles.
That is why the line of bulletproof wearable shirts and jackets developed by a by now well-known enterprise from Colombia has become quite a hit. Reminds one of the bulletproof brassiere worn by a famous lady from our own shores.
Just like inventors of electronics seek always to create the smallest but most / best loaded equipment to make their use a joy for us consumers.
This time, a group of scientists from the University of South Carolina have taken the ordinary T-shirt that people wear on a day to day basis and have reinforced it with boron carbide, the same stuff used to make the extremely hard ceramic that keeps bulletproof vests relatively invulnerable, and keeps big tanks like the M1-A2 Abrams impervious to otherwise dangerous cannon and missile attacks.
The key question, of course, would be making the protective fiber flexible enough so that it does not make the modern wearer look like the knights of old who had to strut around with loads of heavy but ineffective armor to shield them from harm. The scientists were able to convert the boron carbide into a UV protective but body armor protective solution.
Thus, the typical T-shirt would be simply dipped into said solution. Then through a process wherein the strips would be removed and heated in an oven, the cotton fibers of the T-shirt would convert into carbon fibers.
These carbon fibers would then react with the boron solution and become boron carbide, said to be the third hardest material in nature after cubic boron nitride and diamonds.
The resulting boron carbide fiber is said to be extremely tough and impervious to many pistol and rifle rounds, sacrificing only just a bit of flexibility in exchange for its protective qualities.
Of course, one could not expect to do serious gymnastics or heavy workouts in said shirts, but one could run, jump, and bend while avoiding trouble.
This is a first step in what may be a continuous search for the strongest possible fiber protective material that can become de rigueur in strife-torn areas or where people are in danger of getting tagged by motorcycle riders in tandem or simple assassins.
This will make it harder for crimin ls to just go do their worst, because they will have to become shooting experts able to do head-shots. By then, simple caps may be available that will contain such boron carbide fibers….making it harder and harder for would-be perpetrators. Here’s one for the good guys!
By JOSE MA. J. FERNANDEZ