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Starlite: inventions then and now

#1JolteonPosted 6/11/2011 5:36:23 PM
So, I don't know if any of you have read about Starlite. Apparently it's been around for decades, but it's been impossible for the inventor to actually properly sell it, because every time he gets close, the buyer tries to pull some shady crap to steal it.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/5158972/Starlite-the-nuclear-blast-defying-plastic-that-could-change-the-world.html

While reading this article, I couldn't help but think about some of the inventors in the past, and how willingly they shared their research and discoveries. Men like Joseph Priestley. He invented soda water, discovered oxygen, and didn't give a moment's thought to keeping it to himself. And as a result, he lost out on Lord knows how much money. It took no time at all for an opportunist to swoop in and patent a method for carbonated water after Priestley discovered the technique.

So it got me thinking about some of the criticisms being leveled at Ward. It seems as though he would love to "give Starlite to the world". But is it really right to expect that he do it for free? Men like Priestley were definitely noble in the way they freely shared their discoveries, and to a certain degree, that's because they were amateur scientists. It might seem strange to say that the guy who discovered oxygen is an amateur, but most Natural Philosophers were essentially just hobbyists. Ward is the same. He didn't set out to invent Starlite*, he found it through tinkering and experimentation.

So, should Ward do as Priestley did? Release his discovery to the world, and let others capitalize off of it?

Frankly, I see Ward as a Priestley who has learned his lesson. It's not right for others to steal your hard work, and he HAS been negotiating in good faith. It's just that once it's time to pull the trigger, the buyer decides to pull a fast one, instead. The world's the poorer for it, and it's sad that Starlite has had to travel such a pointlessly long road.

*I know that technically when he invented it, he "was" trying to make a heat-resistant material...but it was still more or less discovered by mucking about. >_>

**Oh, and I do think this is politics-related, considering the interest that governments of the world have in it (and in stealing it...).
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Is this finally a conundrum that CAN'T be solved by helicopter theft?
#2Giacomo_HawkinsPosted 6/11/2011 6:03:42 PM
Personally, I think this is the kind of case that patents are intended for. It secures his rights to the product so that he can make profit off of it in exchange for making the technique publicly known and available for others to use at some point in the future. I understand that he'd be reluctant to patent it since that requires revealing the formula and unscrupulous people might appropriate it, but by not patenting it he's invited people to try and steal it from his so that they can patent it themselves. I'm glad that the article mentioned his plans to actually patent the formula since that sets a timeline for him to develop and use the product while he has exclusive rights to the formula before it becomes available for use by the public.
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Will the little voice in the back of my mind screaming "This is a bad idea" please yield the floor. --Mikey
Chivalry be hanged, and so will you.
#3Jolteon(Topic Creator)Posted 6/11/2011 6:15:34 PM
I'm kinda re-thinking the whole "Priestley who learned his lesson" thing, too. Priestley just flat-out didn't care if people stole his ****. He was in it 100% for the discovery of new knowledge. He could have easily supported himself off of his discoveries if he attempted to patent them, but as it was, he was only able to live and pursue his hobbies through the support of patrons.

I'm glad that Ward is finally looking at patenting Starlite, though. It's a shame it took so long.
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Is this finally a conundrum that CAN'T be solved by helicopter theft?
#4ryan0991Posted 6/11/2011 6:21:28 PM(edited)
That material seems too good to be true.

If it's real, then it is such a shame that it hasn't seen widespread use yet. Just think of the possibilities such a material would have.
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The proper phrase is "couldn't care less". "Could care less" means you care.
#5Jolteon(Topic Creator)Posted 6/11/2011 9:10:15 PM
Bump. Come on, people, this stuff sounds awesome!

One day our spaceships could be coated with Starlite! How cool is that?
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Is this finally a conundrum that CAN'T be solved by helicopter theft?
#6Brett8Posted 6/11/2011 10:21:13 PM
It sounds incredible, and there's quite the story behind it over the past few decades. I do think inventors should stand to make quite a bit of money off of their work, though it's unfortunate that, in this case, that has resulted in such an incredible delay.

I think part of it may be the lack of immediacy for the invention to actually be a necessity. It has a lot of possibly revolutionary applications, but no one urgently needs it. To that end, it may be worrisome to buyers that, if they can afford to wait this long on it, so can everyone else. That potentially cripples its profitability.
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#7ryan0991Posted 6/12/2011 9:03:42 AM
This stuff is too interesting to not bump.
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http://www.xboxlc.com/cards/sig/newblack/BOBtheMASTER.jpg
The proper phrase is "couldn't care less". "Could care less" means you care.
#8spankymcfisterPosted 6/12/2011 10:03:22 AM
This is complete bull. A hoax. No names and dates? Vague stories.
IF this invention were real, the benefit to humanity would be enormous and many lives could be saved, and we're to believe he's quibling over a few bucks? His name would go down in the history books.

I'm calling bull ****.

Nothing you can say or post will convince me otherwise.
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Your flaming people who believe in creationism. We're not inferior or dumber than you because we reject James Darwin. - - MurcielagoMC
#9ryan0991Posted 6/12/2011 10:13:34 AM

From: spankymcfister | #008
This is complete bull. A hoax. No names and dates? Vague stories.
IF this invention were real, the benefit to humanity would be enormous and many lives could be saved, and we're to believe he's quibling over a few bucks? His name would go down in the history books.

I'm calling bull ****.

Nothing you can say or post will convince me otherwise.


You seem to have gotten at least one part of the story wrong, but you already said that trying to convince you would be a lost cause.

I'm pretty skeptical too.
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http://www.xboxlc.com/cards/sig/newblack/BOBtheMASTER.jpg
The proper phrase is "couldn't care less". "Could care less" means you care.
#10halo07guyPosted 6/12/2011 11:01:01 AM
ryan0991 posted...
From: spankymcfister | #008
This is complete bull. A hoax. No names and dates? Vague stories.
IF this invention were real, the benefit to humanity would be enormous and many lives could be saved, and we're to believe he's quibling over a few bucks? His name would go down in the history books.

I'm calling bull ****.

Nothing you can say or post will convince me otherwise.
You seem to have gotten at least one part of the story wrong, but you already said that trying to convince you would be a lost cause.

I'm pretty skeptical too.


You can find video on youtube showing demonstrations of the material. Even one produced by Boeing.