Wednesday, August 3, 2022

Gutta percha

Environmental & Science Education, STEM, Biodiversity, Nature

Ed Hessler 

Perhaps you've have heard of "gutta percha" or been stumped when completing a crossword puzzle. I make an assumption but can't imagine it hasn't been used as a  vertical or horizontal challenge.

I'm reading a book in which gutta percha boots were mentioned. What is it? If it became a part of our vocabulary--perhaps not so much in modern times--there must be a reason but what?

The BBC REEL presented a video (5m 48s) on gutta percha and the title captures it's role. It is a tree which "shrunk the world." The Wiki entry on Gutta percha as you will note is incomplete (citations) but is still reasonable and describes its uses, including its use in early dentistry although I assume less used today, replaced by modern and better synthetics.

The story begins in a garden as the BBC video notes. "In Singapore, 1842, Dr William Montgomerie was shown a strange latex by his gardener. This material, when placed in hot water, could be moulded to any shape you wanted, and, on cooling, would set solid. You could do this again, and again and it would happily mould to any shape desired. Unlike rubber, it didn’t crumble in salt water and stayed firm on setting."

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