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So, I've been thinking of materials that I can use on mundane things to make them more "magical".

What I found was that many tools don't appear magical, because the materials they're made out of:

  1. Don't glow
  2. Are not transparent

Maybe, all these tempered glass cases and RGB fans are trying to remedy that...

So, I came up with a magical-looking material for my items:

Fairy Weave

Fairy weave is a transparent/translucent (I just want to see through it) material with very high tensile strength and elasticity, allowing it to be made into thin sheets that still have considerable strength and can be folded "a thousand times". Probably less, depends on the shape.

But what that was supposed to mean is that you can put on a thin belt, jump off a cliff, and the fairy weave airbags would spring out from the belt and cover the entirety of your body, and hopefully deliver you to the ground safely, Mars rover style!

What should it be made out of and what structure should that material have?

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  • $\begingroup$ What's wrong with nylon? $\endgroup$
    – AlexP
    Jun 6, 2021 at 12:06
  • $\begingroup$ @AlexP can we make it stronger? $\endgroup$ Jun 6, 2021 at 12:23
  • $\begingroup$ Ballistic nylon. $\endgroup$
    – AlexP
    Jun 6, 2021 at 12:36
  • $\begingroup$ It was all goood until the last demand, which broke camel back, sorry man corbon nanotubes only, if 100GPa is enough for all that, the rest, it being black and not sexy without nanomachines son, u have to swallow it $\endgroup$
    – MolbOrg
    Jun 6, 2021 at 12:49
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    $\begingroup$ folded "a thousand times" - I hope you don't mean folded double a thousand times. 2^1000 is a very big number. If your material was 1 atom thick and you folded it double 1000 times, it would end up thicker than the size of the universe. I don't think that would fit into a belt. If however you mean concertina-ed ... $\endgroup$ Jun 6, 2021 at 13:45

2 Answers 2

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Silk.

Very likely a good quality spider silk, like that of the trapdoor spider.

Spider silk is, on average, twice as strong per thickness, but has a normal thread thickness 1/3rd to 1/10th that of silk.

In other words, it is just like silkworm silk, just somewhat stronger still and much finer, making thinner and smoother cloth possible.

It is, of course, 5-20x as strong as Nylon, and allows a much thinner fiber.

You will, of course, weave the fabric in a good strong, and especially durable, Twill weave.
Of the fundamental 2-d weaves, this provides the best match of durability, strength, yet still allows large-scale mechanical weaving.

Here's an amazing link to the abilities of spider silk: (courtesy of AlexP, put in the answer for neatness)
Yunqing Gu, Lingzhi Yu, et al., "Mechanical properties and application analysis of spider silk bionic material", in De Gruyter, 24 August 2020.

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  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Yunqing Gu, Lingzhi Yu, et al., "Mechanical properties and application analysis of spider silk bionic material", in De Gruyter, 24 August 2020. $\endgroup$
    – AlexP
    Jun 6, 2021 at 12:40
  • $\begingroup$ I Found this. Thoughts? Should I get my hopes up? $\endgroup$ Jun 7, 2021 at 18:53
  • $\begingroup$ @Mephistopheles ooh nice catch! that's the flipside, accessing the structural strength of spiderweb, not merely the tensile toughness. Not much direct use for the application you were asking about, but a potential leap ahead for making a tougher material that tolerates some damage without falling apart, as most synthetics would. $\endgroup$
    – PcMan
    Jun 7, 2021 at 20:16
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Spider silk

Spider silk has all the properties you want. It has a high tensile strength, much larger than steel, and is elastic. The only thing I'm not sure of is if it's transparent. Any searches came up empty, except for a golden thread spider called the Golden Orb spider. So it is not clear to me if the colour of most is white, or transparent but due to the small size and refraction looks white.

Spider silk can be woven into sheets. Normal horizontal and vertical lines will already to the trick, especially if it's near airtight for the airbags. If pulled in any direction, the tensile strength of at least one directional strand is applied, preventing tearing. Because of the high tensile strength and elasticity, you need less for this product than other materials.

Limits of physics

Do understand that having a small belt that has full body airbag capability is a stretch too far. I'll wager that any material in existence cannot be used to fully envelope a human body with airbags with something as small as a belt, even if you use graphene sheets, which are a molecule thick and can be layered for the required strength. The belt also requires a mechanism for getting air in the bags, which with some creative writing can be done via the air rushing past. Next you also need an substantial amount of air/distance between you and the ground to slow down a fall. Parachutes are therefore much more reliable and require less technology.

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