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Memory foam in the aviation industry

19-05-2012

So what have your memory foam mattress and the aviation industry got in common? Actually, a lot more than you may think. Your incredible mattress material didn’t start out as a more comfortable and supportive bedding, it was designed by NASA as a safety material to protect people in aeroplane and spaceship crashes. That’s right, memory foam was initially used to protect humans from high velocity impacts.

In the mid 1960s NASA instructed head scientist Charles Yost to develop a material that would cushion people upon impact. He synthesised an incredible material that was visco-elastic, meaning that it displays both viscous properties, like honey, and elastic properties, like a rubber band. These dual properties meant that this new material was both supportive and comfortable, making it incredibly safe in high impact crashes.

So how did it become the most revolutionary mattress material then? Several decades after memory foam had revolutionised air safety, scientists altered the formula to see if they could make a more soft, supple and comfortable form of memory foam. The result was the memory foam used in mattresses today and it has been changing the way we sleep ever since.

Next time you lie down on your memory foam mattress, think back to its crash safety history.


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