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Frozen Smoke

Translucent, ethereal blue and over 96% air, aerogels are the lightest solids in the world. They’re not actually frozen smoke—they’re an artificial material—but the nickname fits. They owe their creation to a bet between two chemists, Charles Learned and Samuel Stephens Kistler, in 1931: they wanted to see if they could take a gel and replace its constituent liquid with gas, without causing shrinkage. Kistler won.

Though aerogels have been improved upon in the years since, his original premise is the same: a polymer is combined with a solvent to form a gel, then the liquid is extracted from it and replaced with air, hence creating aerogel. The crucial part is that the aerogel must maintain the gel’s structure, so they’re solid to the touch and don’t disintegrate.

Aerogels are actually pretty remarkable—they’re the world’s best insulators, being extremely porous but low in density; they can withstand explosive damager; and they can support several thousand times their weight. Silica-based aerogels are quite fragile, but newer polymer-based ones are extremely strong and flexible.

Aerogels have been used to insulate electronics on a Mars Rover, and because they’ll perform well in differeny gravity situations, they have a lot of space-related applications such as in space suits or for use in cryogenics. There are more down-to-Earth applications too, such as insulating blankets or tents, and uses in refrigeration and construction.

JOHN LENNON’S RUBBER SOUL JACKET
This is the one. Our greatest piece of Beatles wardrobe. This is the brown suede jacket John Lennon wore on the cover of Rubber Soul. Combine this jacket with a black turtleneck and you’ll look like a former mop-top who’s just beginning to realize his own creative genius – just like John in ’65. Unlike so many of the D.A. Millings matching suits the Beatles wore, this jacket was not part of any band “uniform”. In many ways, it represents John’s boredom with the machinery of the Beatles’s image. By ’65, he just wanted to look cool and be comfortable. This jacket fit the bill nicely. It’s one of the most treasured pieces in our collection.

GLAM ROCK OVERLOAD!

The New York Dolls are easily among the most influential bands of their time. Like the Velvet Underground before them, the Dolls’ sound and style inspired a thousand bands and almost single-handedly kickstarted the glam rock movement. This poster is almost too good: the New York Dolls in their mid-’70s heyday with a new group called Kiss opening up. And the show was only five bucks!

Arminius, without doubt Germania’s liberator, who challenged the Roman people not in its beginnings like other kings and leaders, but in the peak of its empire; in battles with changing success, undefeated in the war.
—  Tacitus. Annales II, 88.
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