There are many great inventions in the world. Some are now taking the world by storm while some are unfortunately never maximized or heard of. Starlite is one of such waste. It was a super material that resists a great deal of force and heat, such as that of 75 Hiroshimas. But the inventor died and took the secret to the grave. Let’s talk about what Starlite is, how it was created, and how come it never graced the world today.
What is Starlite?
Starlite is a piece of plastic that bends in any direction and has this charred mark on one side which is like a coin’s size. It is claimed to withstand extreme heat, even that of 75 Hiroshimas. It’s a plastic that has up to 21 organic copolymers and polymers with a bit of ceramics. The inventor Ward presented the properties of Starlite through an egg demonstration. In other tests, Starlite managed to defy 18,000F laser blasts. This is a thrice diamond’s sublimation point.
The invention was fire-retardant and could have been used as a heat-resistant coating or thermal barrier. With these properties, Starlite could have transformed how the world does things. However, it became a closely-guarded secret, which is rather a waste.
The Inventor and the Experiment
Maurice Ward is the inventor of the mysterious Starlite. He wasn’t a big name and was a regular businessman who ran a plastic business in the city. He had a wife and 4 daughters who ran another business involving hairdressing. He had no formal scientific training, but Ward used to mix dyes and other products and was used to trying different things out.
He once bought an extruder, which is a system for manufacturing plastic cross-sections. It was a huge machine he installed in his own factory. His most notable invention was a result of a decision he made after having witnessed a British Airtours plane crash at the airport. It caught fire after it took off. Ward wanted to discover something which does not burn much as many people died back then mainly due to the toxicity and smoke rather than the fire itself.
He began with teaspoonfuls in the food mixer. He blended and mixed formulas day in and day out. He extruded the formulas he liked into the sheet and tested the materials using a blowtorch.
The incredible Starlite was able to resist 2,500 C of heat which was aimed directly at it with the blowtorch. You could even touch the material afterward. Ward believed that it can easily be the best thermal barrier in the world.
What Happened to Starlite?
If the world did exhaust the possibilities of Starlite, many great discoveries and conveniences could have been brought forth. The world could have enjoyed better fire doors, fire-resistant uniforms, safer furniture, more efficient missile nose cones, better weaponry, and many more. Ward believed in the invention, and he was excited about the thought of many chemical companies lining up for it and making the world a safer place overall.
In 1990, the demonstration of the potential of Starlite was aired on the BBC TV show “Tomorrow’s World. The new plastic “Starlite” was introduced by pointing blow torches at 2 eggs. One egg broke in just a matter of seconds. The other one resisted the heat which hit it for minutes on end. The egg’s shell wasn’t even too warm to the touch after the blowtorch was removed, and when they cracked it open, it didn’t even begin cooking and was still runny inside. The egg was coated in Starlite, and the phones went wild after the demonstration, and companies and organizations were interested to study the product further.
However, it was all for nothing. Ward was hard to deal with as his conditions were unusual. He kept on separating good investors from bad investors by asking for confidentiality agreements and upfront payments. He also kept on keeping 51%.
He kept the formula secret and didn’t even patent it so it stays hidden. In 1991, he sent the very first sample to the White Sands atomic weapon testing site located in New Mexico. Even NASA recognized the potential of Starlite, but then again no agreement was signed. It was said that Ward was impossible to deal with, asking for £1 million one day, and then £10 million on the next. Given the product’s huge potential, Ward was understandably worried that he might not protect his property in court if he ends up fighting with the biggest companies in the world.
Some believe the invention was a hoax, but evidence actually suggests that it was the real thing. As per Mark Miodownick of University College London, which compiles the world’s biggest library of material samples, Starlite’s potential was huge, and it’s probably the world’s biggest handicap. You can just paint it onto anything you wish to protect, and it works like no other.
No material is said to have come close to the power of Starlite. But since Ward never let the material get analyzed or never published his findings in any peer-reviewed journal, despite it being believed to be the real thing, we are all left without it. In 2011, Ward died without ever patenting or commercializing his revolutionary creation. His family is said to know the secret, but they have been quiet ever since Ward’s passing.