Friday, July 18, 2003

Nanopants diary

Last year at about this time, my wife called me at work and told me a robot climbed out of a hovercraft and dropped a pair of Eddie Bauer Nano-Care Plain-Front Chinos on our doorstep. In my excitement, I chose to ignore her droll sarcasm. The pants! The pants! The Nanopants were here!

Whenever I'd talk about nanotechnology to friends and family, I'd always mention the pants. In fact, every news story written in the mainstream media about nanotech in the past two years has brought up sunscreen … and THE PANTS! (Never mind that even those who sell them apparently don't know what they are, as we can see from Popular Science's Little Robots In Your Pants.

Not only was Nano-Tex LLC almost single-handedly bringing nanotechnology to the people, it was also one of the few assets that kept its ailing parent company, Burlington Industries, afloat, as you can see in this story: Ailing Burlington textile company pins its hopes on nanotech.

I put it to good use immediately. I glopped yogurt on my pants at work, and wiped it off to avoid embarrassing stains. I slopped cantaloupe on my white shirt. Damn! No nanoshirt … yet (although one is apparently available in India, and a stink-free shirt is on the drawing board). But I brushed the coffee stains right off my pants. A few months later, I accidentally wrote on my pants with a red marker. I made a mental note to send a strongly worded letter to Nano-Tex about Nano-Whiskers meeting their match with Sharpies. Orange juice, luckily, beaded up and fell harmlessly to the floor.

So, I went ahead and ordered about five more, in all different colors. After a year, my original khakis wore out. I guess mowing the lawn was too much for my nanopants. Also, the little nanobots (I'll call them that because I just like to think of my pants as alive) opt for early retirement after about 30 washings. Still, though, a good deal.

What's next for Nano-Tex? First, it needs to lose Burlington. What a drag on its image. Take a look at today's news: Shareholder seeks probe into Burlington's role in Nano-Tex. More to come on that.

Meanwhile, the true engines of creation are in my pants.


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