Light Friday: Flatus-Snuffing Underwear Takes Off
December 6, 2013
We're on the cusp of a smart-clothing revolution, with textiles that will be able to monitor blood sugar, adjust the volume of your music by brushing a sleeve, display changing messages, etc. But one age-old problem is already being addressed: embarrassing odors caused by flatulence.
Sales of Shreddies, a line of flatus-suppressing undergarments, are leaving a vapor trail -- rocketing by 400 percent, at least -- after recent media coverage went viral, including breezy articles by Huffington Post and tech outlet Gizmodo. Amid the crush, its eponymous U.K.-based manufacturer had to put the following on its website: "Due to recent worldwide press coverage, we are experiencing a very high volume of sales, therefore delivery times are considerably delayed."
"Americans are making up the majority of our sales at the moment," a Shreddies spokesperson told HuffPost back in October.
Shreddies have an odor-absorbing activated carbon black panel that's sandwiched between layers of regular fabric (click on the diagram above for a closer inspection). Odors produced by sulfide and ethyl mercaptan are trapped and neutralized by a carbon cloth trade-named Zorflex. The high-tech cloth, which is reactivated each time by washing, can "filter odors 200 times the strength of the average flatus emission," according to Shreddies, in a proud case of over-engineering.
They were introduced, in fact, five years ago for people who suffer from medical conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome, gastritis, and Crohn's disease. So the company does market the undergarments in a serious manner as healthcare products.
Shreddies are said to last two to three years -- provided they are cared for correctly and not abused, of course. The U.K. manufacturer sources the thin, flexible Zorflex cloth from Brussels-based industrial firm Chemviron Carbon. In fact, this particular use for Zorflex has been so successful for Chemviron Carbon that it lists "Healthcare Underwear" beside "Medical," "Defense," and "Industrial" as a major application market.
Still, that hasn't discouraged an avalanche of interest and sales from outside the medical community. The Toronto Star on Wednesday released a Shreddies "sniff-test" report that its intrepid tech reporter (and equally brave wife) conducted with some rather unscientific methods.
And just to quash any notion that flatulence is a gender-specific problem, Shreddies come in women's and men's styles.
No, we're not talking about The Governor from "The Walking Dead." This is a cautionary tale for those who drive electric cars: Be careful where you decide to plug in your vehicle while out and about, even if for a quick charge.
A man in Decatur, Ga., was recently arrested for stealing electricity for his Nissan Leaf. NBC News reported Kaveh Kamooneh, 50, was hauled off to jail by the Chamblee Police Department, astoundingly more than a week after he connected his EV to a power outlet belonging to a local middle school. He was charged with "theft of power" for failing to seek permission to hook up to the school.
Chamblee P.D. thought it was a serious enough transgression to bring a fugitive to justice.
"I quickly realized it was from the events that had happened 11 days back," said Kamooneh, recalling when a cop showed up at his door, according to the NBC News report. Kamooneh was also quoted as saying he wasn't able to find anyone at the school to ask for permission before extracting his Leaf juice -- he was attending his 11-year-old son's Saturday morning tennis practice. He said he has always politely asked for electricity from strangers.
Kamooneh's 20-minute charge cost DeKalb County roughly five cents of electricity, according to Clean Cities Atlanta, an electric vehicle advocacy group contacted by NBC News' Atlanta affiliate for some criminal analysis. However, the perpetrator was made to spend 15 hours in jail, which undoubtedly cost the county more for booking, processing, and holding him.
But the authorities were adamant. "He stole something that wasn't his," said Chamblee P.D.'s Sargeant Ernesto Ford.
So the lesson is: Always ask for your EV electricity.
Math students at Central Washington University, in Ellensburg, Wash., have broken a world record for discovering the largest "weird number." Guinness Book of World Records, are you paying attention?
In the mathematics world, a "weird number" has unusual characteristics, according to a press release the school distributed upon the thrilling find. The 127-digit number that five CWU students found has no combination of its divisors that adds up to the original number. For those who need a refresher on math terms, divisors are numbers that divide a whole number to yield a quotient that is a whole number. The smallest weird number is 70, since no combination of its divisors -- 1, 2, 5, 7, 10, 14, and 35 -- adds up to 70.
"No one knows how common weird numbers are, and looking for big ones is hard," reads the school's release.
Those five students were determined, though.
They worked with Dominic Klyve, a CWU math professor and advisor, and the school's IT office to procure several old research computer clusters to crunch some numbers. And they were able to find their prized integers during their free time (before classes, for example), breaking a three-decade-long record with a number that is 21 digits longer than the previous record holder. The number? 1,304,478,802,221,037,336,898,806,955,880,590,950,108,213,611,184,211,428,152,436, 309,358,286,058,099,789,749,839,735,498,620,012,494,920,476,023,972,998,095,015,247,872.
But wait, there's more! More numbers, that is. The fab five plan to keep working through Christmas to find even bigger weird numbers (they've, in fact, already found over a dozen numbers that break the old record). Now that's dedication, even if it's odd.