THE CASE OF THE DIMAGGIO JERSEYS
The Evidence: In 1997 Jerome Romolt, a sports agent, paid Joe DiMaggio to sign two shipments of baseball jerseys, which Romolt intended to then sell at a profit. The first shipment arrived back from the retired athlete in good shape, but the signatures on the jerseys in the second shipment had bled, making them virtually worthless. When Romolt's insurance company balked at reimbursing him, he consulted a lawyer, who hired Palenik.
The Science: After closely examining a jersey from each shipment, Palenik determined that the inks and fabrics were identical-but the jerseys had been treated with different softening agents. The substance applied to the first jersey, silicone oil, held the ink (left, top), but the jersey whose signature bled had been treated with a fatty acid ester that just happened to be an ideal ink solvent (left, bottom). In a December 2001 trial in which Palenik testified, Romolt was awarded $1.75 million in damages.
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.