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The Military Science

New Face Paint Protects Soldiers Against Bomb Blasts 107

Posted by samzenpus
from the not-in-the-face dept.
Zothecula writes "For millennia, face paint has helped soldiers avoid being seen by enemy forces. Recently, however, a team of scientists from the University of Southern Mississippi announced that a new type of face paint may soon also be able to protect against the heat of bomb blasts and other explosions. Additionally, a clear version of the paint could be used by civilian firefighters."
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New Face Paint Protects Soldiers Against Bomb Blasts

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  • by Kenja (541830) on Monday August 27, 2012 @02:29PM (#41139503)
    I just have this bad mental image of our men & women in uniform with unicorns etc on their faces being told it will protect them against bombs... much like the magic amulet I have protects me against lion attacks (never been attacked by a lion since I bought it).
    • Re:"I like turtles" (Score:5, Informative)

      by Shoten (260439) on Monday August 27, 2012 @02:41PM (#41139635)

      The only way they'd think they were told it would protect against bomb blasts is if they got their information from Slashdot without RTFA. The article clearly explains that it's not protection against bombs, just the flash of heat that accompanies them. This is a major problem for troops who are not directed to the direct trajectory of shrapnel but who still sustain nasty burns; just imagine a bit of facial scarring, and ask yourself if face paint that would have prevented it would be welcome?

      Of course, these days Slashdot manages to post links to articles without actually reading the article themselves, somehow...

      • by killmenow (184444)

        Of course, these days Slashdot manages to post links to articles without actually reading the article themselves, somehow...

        These days? Your UID is sufficiently low to know this is not a new phenomenon.

        • /i wish they'd invent a paint that would protect them from becoming soldiers...

          • by Aryden (1872756) on Monday August 27, 2012 @03:13PM (#41140053)
            As long as there is war, there will be soldiers. Paint wont help that.
            • by ewieling (90662)
              The soldiers don't have to be human. In the future we will divert valuable national resources to a war without all that messy "soldiers dying" stuff. I'm not sure if this is a good thing. I think one of the (many) reasons the Vietnam war was so unpopular is because the public saw bodies every night on the evening news as they were being unload from the aircraft. I think one of the worst things the USA government has done is to no longer allow the news media to film the bodies coming home. War is horrib
              • by Aryden (1872756)
                War is the horror of humanity.

                I think one of the (many) reasons the Vietnam war was so unpopular is because the public saw bodies every night on the evening news as they were being unload from the aircraft.

                Though I can agree, the Vietnam war still lasted 10 years.

                I think one of the worst things the USA government has done is to no longer allow the news media to film the bodies coming home.

                As a soldier, I disagree. The news media only wants to use those images to press their biased opinions. When a soldier comes home for burial, it is a time of respect, honor, and mourning. Not a tool to be used by the propaganda machines. If the media could show it with dignity and without the bias, then certainly they should be able to.

                • by Anonymous Coward

                  As a soldier, I disagree. The news media only wants to use those images to press their biased opinions. When a soldier comes home for burial, it is a time of respect, honor, and mourning

                  Maybe if such solemnity were reserved for deciding to send the soldiers off to war, maybe there'd be fewer coming home for burial.

                  Besides, the most grievous insult you could make towards a dead soldier is curtailing the very rights, such as freedom of the press, that they died to protect...and to do it in their name, no less

                • by Anonymous Coward

                  "The news media only wants to use those images to press their biased opinions."

                  A lot of Americans believe that the news media is biased. I do. I believe Foxnews and the Murdock Press has a conservative bias, as does most talk radio. I also believe that the old TV Networks have a liberal bias. I believe that in the past 50 years, make that 75 years, most major newspapers have run some stories that expose corruption and injustice, which by challenging those in power makes them liberal. I also know that t

                • When a soldier comes home for burial, it is a time of respect, honor, and mourning.

                  Depends on whom and what they fought for, and why.

                  After all, if a murderer of families and children comes home, it's mostly time to reflect on who they killed.

            • As long as there isn't a just, democratic world wide government there will be war.

              • just, democratic[...] government

                Ok, I'll bite...
                Just AND Democratic is nigh impossible. Masses have a tendency to create their own exclusion zone. We have a few centuries of classical greek and roman histories to illustrate the point of view of Democracy. More recently the USSR and other 'democratic' countries have shown how fast a democratic government can grow sour.

                Also we live in a Republic, and not a place where "every voice counts". It's too easy to manipulate the masses in a democratic system
                • Not necessarily. I'm based my observation in a just and democratic republic, as defined by Montesquieu. Also, world peace becomes attainable under such system when there is only one state, since every state, even under a democratic government will try to expand its influence to the maximum, and, if a state becomes global the need for expansion of influence is gone.

                  A tyranny is a rotten form of government by definition. The main virtue of democracy is not that the voice of majority is heard, but that it give

          • it's called lead paint.
        • by sumdumass (711423)

          Perhaps his account was hacked and it's really a russian spam bot posting?

        • by rtb61 (674572)

          The paint will only protect from clean radiated heat, however bombs not matter how cleanly burning the explosive matter do not just produce radiated heat, they also produce a large amount of high temperature particulate matter and a coat of paint ain't going to do much of anything against even one seconds worth of white hot sand blaster. So more voodoo than reality or homer thinking, eye's wide closed.

    • by JustOK (667959)

      Does that rock protect you from lion politicians and lion corporations?

    • I have no such protection against lions and now I am very concerned. I will pay double if you include magic unicorn face-paint.

    • You're lucky, I imagined them in black face singing riverboat songs. Then I burnt my arm with a cigarette and it went away.
    • Just call them the modern Ghost Shirt society
  • im sure that having this as part of say a Helmet would work even better

    • by K. S. Kyosuke (729550) on Monday August 27, 2012 @02:32PM (#41139529)
      Helmets usually don't cover one's face, people generally have difficulties with trying to see through Kevlar.
      • by Forty Two Tenfold (1134125) on Monday August 27, 2012 @02:56PM (#41139777)

        Helmets usually don't cover one's face

        Hey, you just gave me a great idea for protecting the troops agains IEDs... This paint DOES come in brown, right?

      • You do make a good point.

        How does one see through the face paint? I mean through, as you seem to be implying that a kevlar face mask wouldn't have holes for the eyes, and as such, you'd obviously have to cover your eyeballs in this paint as well.

        • by gerddie (173963)

          ... a kevlar face mask wouldn't have holes for the eyes, and as such, you'd obviously have to cover your eyeballs in this paint as well.

          No, that's what your pair of Joo Janta 200 Super-Chromatic Peril Sensitive Sunglasses are for.

        • by Baloroth (2370816)

          Obviously you'd have to use goggles or something. The problem with a full-face mask is that it will almost always interfere with vision and communications. This paint isn't intended for high-risk individuals like a bomb-squad, it's intended to help prevent major facial damage if you do get exposed. A full face mask isn't worth it on those people.

          Also eye-lids tend to do a decent job protecting the eyes.

        • by Anonymous Coward
          I say we just give them all Star Wars stormtrooper suits and be done with it.
        • by X0563511 (793323)

          You should be wearing your eyewear [roundedoff.com].

          I'm sure you've also seen crews wearing some serious goggles, too.

  • US Navy WW2? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by perpenso (1613749) on Monday August 27, 2012 @02:31PM (#41139517)
    Didn't the US Navy use some sort of face paint during WW2 to protect gunners from the heat and flash?
    • Didn't the US Navy use some sort of face paint during WW2 to protect gunners from the heat and flash?

      Plus, there is also this version [zeller-int.com] used for firefighters and movie stunt doubles.

      The original protective pyrotechnical barrier gel used by professionals around the world seeking the finest protection around fire, flame and heat, such as stunt and special effects experts, foundries, welders, fire fighters, race car drivers and even chefs!

      Invented by chemist Gary Zeller over 25 years ago, Zel-Jel Stunt Gel revolutionized safety standards for pyrotechnical effects in the entertainment industry by achieving a level of safety and protection in fire stunts never before attained.

      Plus this one is not the only one, there are many other brands. Personally, I wouldn't be surprised if a version of this "paint" wasn't already used thousands of years ago by blacksmiths, pottery makers, or even cooks. For someone who's face gets burned on a daily basis, it would only make sense for that person to try all kinds of things to apply to their face to avoid getting burned as much.

      • by Aryden (1872756)
        Not even close to the same thing. That gel is great for what it does but can't hold up in a sustained deployment in the field. It also stinks to high heaven in my opinion. Think of it in the aspect of, if you were to go camping, would you want to keep your face covered in jello or vegemite or nutella the entire time?
        • if you were to go camping, would you want to keep your face covered in jello or vegemite or nutella the entire time?

          Do I have to pick only one? :)

    • by Nutria (679911)

      First thing I thought of, too. It was zinc oxide, the same as life guards put on their noses and grandparents smear on babies' bottoms.

    • by icebike (68054) *

      The Brits used full flash hoods [wikipedia.org] for turret crews in World War 2, but these excluded the face. The modern British navy have anti-flash gear that covers much more of the face [wikipedia.org] when in actual combat such as in the Falklands. These are made of Nomex today.

      In those days, the US Navy was never much of a believer in anti flash clothing as the Royal Navy; though for a long time it did use anti flash cream for covering the face. Now I believe anti-flash hoods and sleeves are used in combat situations.

      The US issue

  • At the time of this post, the "fortune" was "I had pancake makeup for brunch!"
  • Fine print (Score:5, Funny)

    by jbeaupre (752124) on Monday August 27, 2012 @02:40PM (#41139623)

    * Not effective against effects of a bomb if you are the one wearing the bomb.

  • Why would firefighters need clear? So what if they painted their faces with some particular color?

    Plus would clear actually work as well? Opaque would seem to be a better blocker than transparent or translucent?
    • Clear works for sunscreen. We're blocking non-visible wavelengths, after all.

    • by Sarten-X (1102295) on Monday August 27, 2012 @03:01PM (#41139851) Homepage

      If I remember those county-fair firefighter demonstrations well enough, one of the major problems firefighters face is that they're already too scary.

      In a house fire, children are startled awake by alarms, surrounded by disorienting smoke, and seeing flashing lights outside their window. Then suddenly a grotesque figure with a misshapen body and respirator mask comes bursting in to their room carrying a giant axe, with flames surrounding them. The children scream and run away, frantically hoping to escape their certain doom at the hands of the demon from the hallway. It's no use. Their shocked scream was heard, and the monster lumbers toward them, making unintelligible noises that sound almost like speech. Finally the great beast peels off his face to show a human underneath. "It's okay, I'm a fireman. I'll take you outside." Before the children can fully understand what's going on, they're being carried toward the door, and it's so hot they can't think straight. Maybe this is alright. At the door now, and there's people outside. Then there's mommy and everything's alright.

      Keeping whatever remnants of human appearance a firefighter has is a good thing.

      • I do hope you're joking.

        The mask isn't just there to protect the skin from getting a burn. It's there to keep the air from boiling away their eyeballs, singing and burning their lungs etc.

        There's a reason that most firefighters are only allowed to be in a building for about 15 minutes. It's not that their oxygen tanks can only carry that much - it's that they'll collapse from dehydration if they stay in there much longer. They quite literally lose a few pounds in that short time span, purely through the act

        • by Sarten-X (1102295)

          I'm not suggesting it as a replacement, either. I'm suggesting that a transparent paint, rather than an opaque one, could help shave a few precious seconds off the time a (young) victim is in a burning building while still offering a bit more protection for the heroes.

          As I understand the situation right now, a firefighter who can't approach a child has the option to remove their mask briefly to try to calm the child down. That comes at a great risk to the rescuer, because the mask may not seal properly afte

          • by icebrain (944107)

            As I understand the situation right now, a firefighter who can't approach a child has the option to remove their mask briefly to try to calm the child down.

            I was never taught that, and none of us would ever consider doing that in a fire, because

            the mask may not seal properly afterward, or even those few moments with the mask off could burn their face severely.

            Not to mention possibly burning our lungs, inhaling smoke and toxic gases, dropping the helmet, etc.

            We aren't going to remove helmet and facepiece; we're just going to grab the kid and get him out of there, and worry about calming him down outside, where it's cooler and has breathable air.

          • As mentioned below, whether the rescuer will actually have time to apply the paint before entering is another matter.

            The other good reason for a clear version is that it doesnt make you look funny/stupid if you have to wear it all day to be ready at a moments notice.
            Provided it lasts as long as i would expect something intended for battlefield usage, they can apply it at the start of their shift and then their day is otherwise normal.

    • by icebrain (944107)

      As a firefighter, I don't really see what benefit this stuff will really bring to us, given that we're already supposed to be covered completely by our turnout gear. We certainly don't have time to go applying it on the way to a call anyway.

      Unless maybe it can be applied to the outside of the turnout gear and make it more heat-reflective?

      • by c0lo (1497653)

        As a firefighter, I don't really see what benefit this stuff will really bring to us, given that we're already supposed to be covered completely by our turnout gear.

        What if the turnout gear can be made lighter by using the gel is some form? Would it be an advantage?

        • by icebrain (944107)

          Lighter turnout gear is always a good thing, but given that the greater threat is heated gases (ambient temperature in a fire room can be a few hundred degrees, and you'll operate there for minutes at a time) and some physical protection against contact with hot and/or sharp objects, and seeing that some level of thickness and insulation will be necessary for that, I doubt this will make much of a difference.

          Now, if you could somehow significantly increase the breathable air our packs contain, while making

    • by c0lo (1497653)

      Why would firefighters need clear? So what if they painted their faces with some particular color?

      Then you'd not know by the color of their skin if it's something wrong with their face.

      Plus would clear actually work as well? Opaque would seem to be a better blocker than transparent or translucent?

      The protection derives from reflective properties of the paint, not from absorption of the radiation. You certainly don't want the protection layer to absorb the heat [wikipedia.org].

      • Reflective should be easy. Just make it white. You could probably adapt the makeup used by clowns - just make it longer-lasting, non-melting and flame-retardant.
        • by c0lo (1497653)

          Reflective should be easy. Just make it white. You could probably adapt the makeup used by clowns - just make it longer-lasting, non-melting and flame-retardant.

          Be quick... go patent your idea! See... zinc oxide is white and guaranteed to stay on your face up to 1975 C. Also, used for quite a long time in Sun screens [wikipedia.org]. So stupid of USM not trying that first.

          (hint: what you want for firefighting is a paint that is reflecting in IR - you care less how "white" it is in UV-Vis.
          And IR radiation is only one side of the protection; the other one is non-radiative heat transfer - direct contact with hot objects and hot gasses. For this, low thermal conductivity - aka therm

  • by Anonymous Coward

    How about visibility in night vision devices. If the substance reflects infra-red (which bands?) wouldn't it work like a safety reflective vest, yelling "HERE! I'M HERE!"

  • So will this protect you from a "real bad day"?
  • This was also the same college(college of polymers) from USM that presented their work in relation to self-healing cars [desmoinesregister.com] but also shows uses of other things like cell phones.
  • by Ukab the Great (87152) on Monday August 27, 2012 @02:59PM (#41139823)

    "For millennia, face paint has helped soldiers avoid being seen"

    "In this film we hope to show how not to be seen. This is Mr. Mohammed Quadrallah of 2345 Ibn Ali Avenue, Lashkar Gah, Helmand province, Afghanistan. He can not be seen. Now I am going to ask him to wipe off his face. Mr. Quadrallah, will you wipe off your face please."

    (In the distance Mr Quadrallah wipes off his face with a handkerchief, which is followed by a drone strike followed by Wilhelm scream)

    "This demonstrates the value of not being seen."

  • It probably causes cancer.
  • by CAIMLAS (41445) on Monday August 27, 2012 @03:03PM (#41139905) Homepage

    If this is, effectively, a heat shield, how will this impact soldiers in the field when they're not directly being blown up?

    In war theatres where heat exhaustion is a significant concern, I don't see adding a protective layer to one of the few exposed parts of the body - a part where a great amount of heat is expelled due to its location - as being all that beneficial. I'm reminded of soldiers carrying their helmets in WWII and being penalized for not wearing them due to their weight and temperature discomfort - in relatively mild Europe.

    Additionally, due to the absorbent nature of skin, your body's biggest organ, I have to wonder how this might impact long-term health. I imagine it's probably a flexible ceramic with some degree of volume/mass, possibly made with a non-Newtonian fluid. Assuming there's anything in it to be absorbed by the skin, that couldn't be good for you...

    • by Aryden (1872756)
      You still sweat through the current paints. I never found it to be a hindrance out in the field. The most annoying part was putting the shit on in the first place.
      • by CAIMLAS (41445)

        I've used it. It always seems to make my sweat sting more when it gets in my eyes, to the point where I have to wash my face/eye area with soap/water to stop it from obscuring my vision.

        • by Aryden (1872756)
          I never had that issue, though many do. Then again, I sweat very little on my face and forehead. The only time that happens is when I had on the pro mask.
  • awesome (Score:5, Funny)

    by Quiet_Desperation (858215) on Monday August 27, 2012 @03:15PM (#41140103)

    When asked if the face paint was too thick, a soldier demonstrating the product said, "Mmmph mmmm mmmh mmmph mmm mmmmph."

  • by Grayhand (2610049) on Monday August 27, 2012 @03:21PM (#41140209)
    This is a shot of an early field test. http://mediaconnectiononline.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/10/wile_e_coyote_ACME.jpg [mediaconne...online.com]
  • So strong that the pasty-white /. basement-dwellers will finally be able to emerge from their man-cave.

    • by c0lo (1497653)

      So strong that the pasty-white /. basement-dwellers will finally be able to emerge from their man-cave.

      That's racist and sexist (as it implies that basement-dwelling geeks come in Caucasian male flavor only).

      • Oops, don't want to exclude anyone from being criticized.

        So strong that the black-as-night /. basement-dwellers will finally be able to emerge from their man-cave
        So strong that the pasty-white /. basement-dwellers will finally be able to emerge from their woman-cave
        So strong that the black-as-night /. basement-dwellers will finally be able to emerge from their woman-cave
        So strong that the black-as-night /. basement-dwellers will finally be able to emerge from their transgender-cave
        So strong that the pasty-w

  • But i really like the idiot's comment at the bottom of the article: "Why a clear version for firefighters? Why not a silver or, better yet, gold version that would reflect infrared? Not very stealthy, but firefighters aren't soldiers. Gadgeteer 24th August, 2012 @ 03:57 pm PDT "
  • If one is that close to the blast, one has to worry about shrapnel and the pressure wave. Those are much more dangerous than the heat of the explosion.

    • I imagine it's easier to treat a soldier for internal injuries if you don't have to worry about their skin falling off too.
  • I wonder how well the DEET worked after "encapsulating the DEET within a hydrogel". Wouldn't that mean that the DEET could not get to the air and deter flies?

  • and one giant leap toward manned solar expeditions!
  • by Greyfox (87712)
    If you're standing close enough for the heat to be a problem, won't the shock wave and shrapnel still kill you? I suppose at least you'll leave a prettier corpse, though...
  • you know what else protects your soldiers? Keeping long crooked American nose out of business of other nations.

  • "Now listen you maggots! Shoot 'em, blow 'em, kill 'em anyway you like, but remember this. The blue ones are bulletproof, so use knives or grenades. But not on the green ones, those are resistant to all forms of explosives... and poison, I think. The black ones cannot be drowned and the purple ones can safely ignore radiation, so nukes are useless. War has become more complicated, I guess."

Machines certainly can solve problems, store information, correlate, and play games -- but not with pleasure. -- Leo Rosten

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