Undie facts

The panel topic at Celebrate Science this weekend was “Is Science Everywhere?” Here’s a list I prepared as part of my contribution to the day:

Ten highly scientific things you might not know about your ginch, from 50 Underwear Questions:

  1. Underwear carved on an ancient figurine in France has shown archeologists when people in that region first developed weaving technologies.

  2. In Medieval Europe, people washed their undies in pee. Theoretically, the acid ate away the dirt.

  3. In 1856, an inventor patented the inflatable petticoat, which allowed women to float their skirts weightlessly – until they popped.

  4. In the 1880s, Lewis Tomalin sold thousands of wool undersuits on the theory that natural fabric could help you lose weight, gain strength, and improve your singing voice.

  5. The first underwear with elastic came out in the mid-1800s. It didn’t last long, though, and it couldn’t be washed. Elastic waistbands weren’t popular until after 1925, when the Dunlop Rubber Company created elastic that could be boiled.

  6. The jock strap was invented in 1897 for the sake of Boston bike couriers who were finding that while some of their packages arrived safely, other “packages” were a little numb.

  7. In 1900s, you could buy a Heidleberg Electric Belt, which would shock your groin every few seconds to improve your circulation and nerve function.

  8. In 1917, when the US War Industries Board asked women to stop buying corsets, they saved enough metal to build two entire battleships.

  9. Women wear panties today because of two 1950s innovations: elastic thread and nylon.

  10. It’s hard to wash your underwear in space. One astronaut took his dirty undies, wet them, and planted seeds… which sprouted into an underwear garden.

I think we can definitely say that science is everywhere… even in your underpants.

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