THE CASE OF THE FUEHRER'S TUNIC
The Evidence: Some years ago, a collector in San Diego, California, paid top dollar for a Nazi tunic whose label stated that it had belonged to Adolf Hitler. Then, concerned about its authenticity, he asked Palenik to examine it.
The Science: Palenik removed two kinds of fiber from the label. Viewing the first type under the polarized light microscope, he identified it as polyester (bottom left). The other fiber was cotton. When Palenik subjected it to the fluorescence microscope, he observed that it had been treated with an optical brightener, a substance that is applied to fabrics to make them look especially white (bottom right). The hitch: Neither polyester nor optical brighteners were available until after World War II. The collector sued; the case was settled shortly before it was scheduled to go to trial.
Five amazing, clean technologies that will set us free, in this month's energy-focused issue. Also: how to build a better bomb detector, the robotic toys that are raising your children, a human catapult, the world's smallest arcade, and much more.