Starry Night by Vincent van Gogh
In a fascinating article in New Scientist (well, I find it fascinating), http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn19043-aspirin-and-dental-floss-homespun-highenergy-physics.html#, pretty everyday things are being used as part of various cutting-edge physics experiments at labs like Fermilab on the French-Swiss border, the Large Hadron Collider near Geneva, Switzerland, and the National Institute of Radiological Sciences in Tokyo, Japan in experiments to test the limits of space, time, energy, and matter.
Reminding us of the Steven Spielberg film E.T., where a cute little alien stranded on Earth was trying to build a device to “call home”, and put together various “borrowed” objects to that end, our planet’s scientists are using ordinary items, which include aspirin tablets, recycled plastic bottles, fishing line, aluminum foil, Japanese konnyaku noodles, model airplane servomotors, stockpots, and even a coffin. Simply amazing! And one of these items is–you guessed it–dental floss, which is used to tie down very fine wires to keep progressively colder layers from touching and so absorbing heat in the Cryogenic Dark Matter Search detector in Minnesota, to keep its core at one degree above absolute zero (as cold as things can ever get).
You won’t ever try this at home, so no warning is necessary, but if an alien ever knocks on your door one night and asks for some dental floss, you’ll know why. I suggest you give it to him (or her).