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MIT student blogger Sam M. '07

The Parafilm Effect by Sam M. '07

The center cannot hold... unless you stick it together with Parafilm.

DID YOU KNOW? John Stamos, better known to millions as Uncle Jesse from Full House, was once the touring drummer for The Beach Boys?

What is Parafilm?

Parafilm M is a unique self-sealing, moldable and flexible film for numerous uses in the typical laboratory including the typical electron microscope laboratory. Parafilm M has unique permeability properties, impressive water vapor transport properties, and is resistant to many common reagents. With the use of the special Parafilm M dispenser, which are sized to take either the 2″ (50.8 mm) or 4″ (101.6 mm) wide rolls, one can conveniently cut off uniform sized strips or squares of 2″ (50.8 mm) length. The thickness of all Parafilm products is 0.005 (127 um) and although we are often asked about the availability of some other thickness, there is, at this time, no possibility for the making of the product in any other thickness. Another novel characteristic of Parafilm is the ease with which one can make a “dead fold”. And as if this is not enough, Parafilm can be stretched 3 to 4 times its original length before breaking.

That is what Parafilm is. Basically, a high-tech version of Glad Press + Seal.

Anyway, last summer, talking to my friend Alicia ’06, I found that Parafilm is pretty much ubiquitous in every research laboratory worldwide. Just among the people living in my suite, we were using it to seal off cell cultures, hold fluids in high-temperature fittings, and make sure NMR tubes stay closed at 360 rpm.

Now, also note that the designs of the Parafilm box and logo apparently haven’t changed since, like, 1952 or something.


Why? Because they don’t really need to focus on marketing or anything; nobody makes anything that does the same thing that Parafilm does, and it’s used in pretty much every research lab in the entire world. Even Glad Press n’ Seal is not as moldable and flexible as good old parafilm.

Do you know what that means? If Parafilm Headquarters suddenly, for any reason, stopped producing Parafilm, all scientific research in the entire world would come to a screeching halt.

I think of all this tonight because my friend Ariel ’09 is writing a paper for Colossal Failures in Engineering detailing possible security threats to MIT. She’s been assigned to focus on Building 10 (better known as the Great Dome and environs). Because if somebody could assemble a police car on the dome, why not a killer death robot or something?

Yeah, right. All they’d really have to do is find Parafilm Headquarters. Trust me.

4 responses to “The Parafilm Effect”

  1. Jess says:

    oh my god. Parafilm is quite possibly the most fun substance ever. besides U-hu (you know, that moldy rubbery clay-like stuff you use to hold up posters?), and ublec (cornstarch + water = is it a liquid? is it a solid? who knows?), parafilm is great. so versatile. so wonderful. so fantastic. parafantastic?

    can’t get enough of it. which is why they should NEVER EVER take it away. just like if J.K. Rowling died suddenly. oh god, could you imagine that? the entire world would RIOT. (against what, I’m not quite sure..)

  2. thekeri says:

    Thank you, Jess, for nearly giving me a heart attack with the thought of JKR dying.

    Perish the thought, I say. Perish it!

  3. Anonymous says:

    I need your help…..

    How can I translate the Foreign Income Tax Return ???

    [email protected]

  4. Ahh parafilm… the stuff of dreams