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Ode to perlite - wonder material

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We are delighted to announce this afternoon that after around four years of trying, we have finally managed to get the word "perlite" onto El Reg - no mean feat, to be sure.

Any reader not familiar with perlite is pointed in the direction of the Perlite Institute which has published a handy guide (PDF) fanfaring perlite as "the world's most versatile material".

For those of you of a scientific bent, perlite "is not a trade name but a generic term for naturally occurring silicous rock. The distinguishing feature which sets perlite apart from other volcanic glasses is that when heated to a suitable point in its softening range, it expands from four to twenty times it original volume."

All well and good, but what on earth do they use it for? To answer this poser, let's look no further than this marvellous bit of spam just in from, er, well it's not quite clear actually - there being no return address, no explanatory blurb, just good, old-fashioned hard-sell under a "Pearlite" (sic) subject banner:

It is a pearlite goods factory of Hebei province of China, the main variety that the speciality produces: Pearl mere sands, pearlite( 2. 5 mm-7mm),it regulate explosives densities because pharmaceutical( hate pearlite water), hate water keep pearlites warm board of, The cement pearlite keeps the board warm, the pearlite is helped and strain the pharmaceutical. The price is favourable , welcome old and new customers to consult the business, but process and made according to different needs, Hope to cooperate with you!

Beautiful. Absolutely no bloody idea what this is twittering on about, but who can argue with the delicious "hate water keep pearlites warm board of"? Perhaps a reference to perlite's insulatory properties, or maybe a more deeply spiritual investigation in the very nature of being. Who can say?

And while you're mulling over the profundity of it all, slip on the whalesong CD and plunge your hand gently into a bag of horticultural perlite - it's as satisfying as popping bubblewrap between index finger and thumb. And... relax. ®

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