Microkhan by Brendan I. Koerner

“Untouched by Time’s Dark Captains”

January 6th, 2010 · 3 Comments

In the midst of prepping a forthcoming post on urban population trends, we randomly stumbled across this 1959 video from the Bureau of Mines, in which asbestos gets its praises sung by an amazingly eloquent narrator. Historical curios such as this can only make us wonder which of today’s miracle products will eventually be revealed to be far more harmful than we ever anticipated.


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3 Comments so far ↓

  • Jordan

    It really is a shame that asbestos is so harmful. We’ve never found a flame-retardant material quite as good and probably never will.

    Though it makes me wonder how safe we’ll be when carbon nanotubes become more common in household products. They can pierce cells, as evidenced by a report I read in the Economist:


    Given that being ability to puncture nuclei was the cause of asbestos’ mutagenic properties, I tend to wonder whether or not nanotubes will do much the same thing. Might be necessary to find ways to derivatize them to keep them from so easily going through cell membranes.

  • Brendan I. Koerner

    I guess the big question that raises is how much testing we’re willing to subject these newfangled materials to. Those tests will mean long delays in their rollout to markets, to the point that the private sector may be discouraged from making the necessary investments. But by the same token, I’m sure no one wants an asbestos situation on their hands again.

    As an aside, I remember reading how the current owner of the Baltimore Orioles became a billionaire thanks to asbestos litigation. That always struck me as a uniquely American way to earn a fantastic fortune.

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