At last night’s game we got a free Edwin Encarnacion jersey. It’s the traditional design, in a size large enough to comfortably fit most reasonably sized people, and looks pretty sharp. The jersey features that “press-on” type lettering, however — which means I’ll be giving it kid glove treatment.
I first learned this important life lesson in 1973, when I used my Big Bear bag boy earnings to buy a cool orange Eric Clapton t-shirt with a press-on picture of the Guitar God on the front. (I know . . . “cool” and “orange t-shirt” are rarely used in the same sent, but you must remember it was the ’70s.) I wore it, put it in the laundry basket for Mom to wash, and got back a fundamentally changed garment. The shirt had shrunk about five sizes and the picture of Clapton had become a cracked, crumbling, unrecognizable mess. Gah! But, because I paid for it with my own money, I continued to use it as one of the t-shirts I wore under my jeans shirt — and avoided buying press-on t-shirts thereafter.
It may be that press-on technology has improved in the last 45 years, but I’m not taking any chances. The EE jersey won’t be seeing the washer, ever.
Scientists are always pushing us closer to the future envisioned by sci-fi movies. Now we learn that, like the poor, deceived wretches trapped by the Matrix in the classic movie of the same name, humans soon may become walking batteries — at least, if they wear the right t-shirt.
A professor at the University of South Carolina has figured out how to convert a t-shirt into a power source. He bought a cheap t-shirt from a discount store, soaked it in fluoride and dried it in a high-temperature oxygen-free environment. As a result, the cellulose in the fibers turned into activated carbon. The fibers were then thinly coated with manganese oxide and thereby became capacitors — i.e., a device capable of storing an electric charge. Add an electrode and a plug and — voila! — your t-shirt could be used to power your cell phone or iPad.
I don’t like wearing artificial fibers that don’t “breathe,” so I doubt that I would want to wear a carbonized shirt coated with manganese oxide. What’s more, I don’t think I’d feel comfortable in a garment that was supercharged with electricity. I’d be afraid that a little static electricity could cause a massive short circuit — and I’d hate to think of the electrical firestorm that could be created if I also wore a pair of thigh-rubbing corduroy pants on a cold, dry winter’s day.