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From: (Henry Spencer)
Subject: Re: Bedding on the Moon
Date: Fri, 8 Dec 1995 17:55:27 GMT

In article <4a0qem$ojq@s2.GANet.NET> "William H. Mook, Jr."
<wm0@s1.GANet.NET> writes:

>Also, don't forget advanced ceramics make possible spun fiberglas whose
>fibers are very very flexible (by the standards of ceramics) So it might
>be conceivable that you could weave fabrics out of these fibers...

Fiberglass cloth already exists, and is already used in spaceflight -- it's
called Betacloth.  It turns out that you have to coat the fibers with Teflon
or something similar to make practical clothing, because otherwise they
abrade easily and you get little bits of fiber causing skin irritation and/or
being inhaled (accounts vary on which of these problems is more serious).

Incidentally, although the terminology is sometimes a bit vague, technically
glasses and ceramics are two different classes of materials.

>Since they're ceramic through and through - they'll last as long as the 

Sorry, wrong -- not if they're being worn!  They'll wear down, develop
thin spots, tear, etc. just like cloth made from more normal fibers.

> ...they'll be easy to clean, (without water - just put them in a 
>vacuum and shake them with a contact ultrasonic vibrator) ...

Sorry, wrong -- this won't remove dirt that's firmly stuck to the fibers.
Cloth made of glass/ceramic fibers is much more like ordinary cloth than
it is like ordinary glass/ceramic objects.  The fibrous nature, not the
details of the fibers themselves, dominate its properties. 

>and they won't 
>rot like organic fibers (no bedbugs, mites, fleas, or ticks)...

Most synthetic organic fibers won't rot either, and even the natural ones
won't rot if kept dry.  Insects (bedbugs etc.) have nothing to do with
rot, and most anyone who has cats and is sensitive to flea bites can
testify that fleas have no objection to crawling around on synthetic
fibers or inorganic materials -- the synthetic carpets and tile floors
need to be sprayed with flea killer just like the wool and wood ones.

> they're fireproof...

Now *this* is correct, and it's about the one advantage of things like
Betacloth.  However, it's generally considered a fairly minor issue
for clothing, except in very unusual applications.  As a practical
matter, a lunar colony is going to have to use a mixed-gas atmosphere
in which flammability problems will be relatively minor.
Look, look, see Windows 95.  Buy, lemmings, buy!   |       Henry Spencer
Pay no attention to that cliff ahead...            |

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