Joe Lavin

June 14, 2005

There Are Tiny Robots in My Pants

Don't worry. That's not some strange pickup line. It's the truth. My new pants from The Gap contain special stain-resistant particles. Yes, somewhere on a molecular level, these nano-particles are working hard to get rid of whatever I happen to spill on them. I always suspected there was something exciting happening in my pants, and now I have proof. Granted, these nano-particles aren't really robots. I just prefer to think they are. Somehow, I like to imagine that there's a miniature episode of "The Jetsons" taking place right in my pants whenever I accidentally spill some soda on myself.

I guess those Jetson writers weren't too prescient though. By now, we were supposed to have flying cars. Instead, we have to make do with stain-resistant khakis. Other generations walked on the moon. We can spill guacamole dip on ourselves with no ramifications. You have to really admire that first scientist who had the courage to stand up and announce, "With nanotechnology, we will be able to make great strides in medicine in order to save lives, but first could we maybe do something about my pants? I mean, look at this."

What's next? Special trousers that automatically change to whatever style is currently in vogue? Skirts with hemlines that know to be exactly the correct length for the season? Clothes that change colors to match whatever else you happen to be wearing? It's going to be a whole new world in the future, and, damn, you'll be looking good.

I've already written about how some food companies are planning to use nanotechnology to develop "fun" food that can change colors. But what happens when you spill some of this special nano-food on your nano-pants? If I worked for a food company, just for fun, I would develop food that was stain-resistant-resistant. Whenever you spilled this food on your clothes, the equivalent of World War III would be taking place down at the molecular level, as the different nano-bots fought it out. Perhaps, in the future, we'll even be able to place bets on the nano-bots. When that day comes, my money will be on the nano-bots in my pants.

As you can imagine, not everyone is happy about this, and justifiably so. Environmental groups are up in arms because no one really knows how these nano-particles will react with the world around them. Frankly, we are taking a lot of chances just to avoid making a trip to the dry cleaners. I would have preferred to buy non-nano-pants myself, but stores like The Gap have embraced this trend so much that it's sometimes tough to find environmentally friendly clothes.

Those worried about nanotechnology are trying some novel techniques to get their message out. Last week, in Chicago, a group of protesters actually stripped down naked in front of an Eddie Bauer store to protest all the nano-particles in their clothing. Because really there's no better way to gather respect for your cause than to strip down naked in front of strangers. (Here's a special tip: If ever you're intimidated by naked protesters, just imagine them wearing black socks.) The group calls itself THONG. It stands for Topless Humans Organized for Natural Genetics. This is not to be confused with THOUGH, Topless Humans Organized for UnGentlemanly Hijinks. That's something entirely different.

I'm not sure how effective this whole naked strategy will be. Sure, they'll get attention, but it's tough to keep track of all the groups protesting in the buff these days. It'll probably just result in more teenage boys applying for summer jobs at Eddie Bauer because, hey, that's where the naked girls go. I would also imagine that there are several Eddie Bauer employees secretly stocking more nano-clothes just so that the naked people will come back.

Honestly, if there were ever any way to incorporate nanotechnology into my accounting job, I know I would give it a try. There's nothing quite like a visit from naked protesters to help you get through a slow afternoon.

©2005 Joe Lavin

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October 5, 2002
From The Boston Herald
I Like My Food Dumb
I've heard of "smart" cards and "smart" appliances, but now some food companies want to make "smart" food, which begs the question: if the food was so smart in the first place, how come it's now food? ( More... )