If you spend a lot of time staring straight ahead while stuck in traffic, you may have wondered what those tiny black dots circling the edges of your car’s windshield are. Or maybe you've never even noticed them. They’re easy to miss, but according to Jalopnik, they serve a few important functions.
That black strip that wraps around the window is called a frit or a frit band, and it’s essentially ceramic paint that has been baked into the glass in a way that makes it impossible to scrape off. It’s there to protect the urethane sealant holding your windshield in place from ultraviolet rays, which, under less secure circumstances, could cause the glass to pop out.
“The frit band also acts to provide a rougher surface for that adhesive to stick to, and it’s a visual barrier, preventing people from seeing that nasty glue from outside,” David Tracy wrote for Jalopnik. The frit has been commonplace since the 1950s and ‘60s, when car manufacturers started swapping out metal trim for adhesives.
Ok, so that explains the solid black strip, but what about those dots?
The reason the dots get smaller as they move inwards is because it creates a gradient pattern that’s more aesthetically pleasing and less obvious—and distracting—to both drivers and passengers.
The dots aren’t there just to look pretty, though. Much of the design has to do with the way windshields are made: When the glass is bent in an oven, the frit heats up faster than the rest of the windshield because it’s black. To reduce optical distortion as a result of this thermal disparity, a dot gradient is used to even out the temperature.
You can also thank a second set of dots on your windshield—right behind the rearview mirror—for helping to keep the sun out of your eyes as you drive.
Now that you're an expert on frit bands, check out our guide to the meanings behind 15 different symbols on your car's dashboard. Never again will you miss another tire pressure warning.
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By this point, your eco-friendly pal probably has a reusable water bottle that accompanies them everywhere and some sturdy grocery totes that keep their plastic-bag count below par. Here are 10 other sustainable gift ideas that’ll help them in their conservation efforts.
1. Reusable Produce Bags; $13
The complimentary plastic produce bags in grocery stores aren’t great, but neither is having all your spherical fruits and vegetables roll pell-mell down the checkout conveyor belt. Enter the perfect alternative: mesh bags that are nylon, lightweight, and even machine-washable.
Saying goodbye to disposable tea bags calls for a quality tea diffuser, and there’s really no reason why it shouldn’t be shaped like an adorable animal. This “ParTEA Pack” includes a hippo, platypus, otter, cat, and owl, which can all hang over the edge of a glass or mug. (In other words, you won’t have to fish them out with your fingers or dirty a spoon when your loose leaf is done steeping.)
Typing your notes on a tablet or laptop might save trees, but it doesn’t quite capture the feeling of writing on paper with a regular pen. The Rocketbook, on the other hand, does. After you’re finished filling a page with sketches, musings, or whatever else, you scan it into the Rocketbook app with your smartphone, wipe it clean with the microfiber cloth, and start again. This one also comes with a compatible pen, but any PILOT FriXion pens will do.
It’s hard to compete with the convenience of plastic wrap or tin foil when it comes to covering the exposed end of a piece of produce or an open tin can—and keeping those leftovers in food storage containers can take up valuable space in the fridge. This set of five silicone Food Huggers stretch to fit over a wide range of circular goods, from a lidless jar to half a lemon.
Swiffers may be much less unwieldy than regular mops, but the disposable pads present a problem to anyone who likes to keep their trash output to a minimum. These machine-washable pads fasten to the bottom of any Swiffer WetJet, and the thick microfiber will trap dirt and dust instead of pushing it into corners. Each pad lasts for at least 100 uses, so you’d be saving your eco-friendly friend quite a bit of money, too.
A fondness for fizzy over flat water doesn’t have to mean buying it bottled. Not only does the SodaStream let you make seltzer at home, but it’s also small enough that it won’t take up too much precious counter space. SodaStream also sells flavor drops to give your home-brewed beverage even more flair—this pack from Amazon ($25) includes mango, orange, raspberry, lemon, and lime.
There’s a good chance that anyone with a pet (or just an intense dislike for lint) has lint-rolled their way through countless sticky sheets. iLifeTech’s reusable roller boasts “the power of glue,” which doesn’t wear off even after you’ve washed it. Each one also comes with a 3-inch travel-sized version, so you can stay fuzz-free on the go.
Even if you keep a compost pile in your own backyard, it doesn’t make sense to dash outside every time you need to dump a food scrap. A countertop compost bin can come in handy, especially if it kills odors and blends in with your decor. This 1.3-gallon pail does both. It’s made of stainless steel—which matches just about everything—and contains an activated-charcoal filter that prevents rancid peels and juices from stinking up your kitchen.
Nobody likes starchy, scratchy clothes, but some people might like blowing through bottles of fabric softener and boxes of dryer sheets even less. Smart Sheep is here to offer a solution: wool dryer balls. Not only do they last for more than 1000 loads, they also dry your laundry faster. And since they don’t contain any chemicals, fragrances, or synthetic materials, they’re a doubly great option for people with allergies and/or sensitive skin.
While plenty of devices are rechargeable themselves, others still require batteries to buzz, whir, and change the TV channel—so it’s good to have some rechargeable batteries on hand. In addition to AA batteries, AAA batteries, and a charger, this case from Panasonic comes with tiny canisters that function as C and D batteries when you slip the smaller batteries into them.
By the time Stephen Hawking died in 2018, he had left a lasting impact on the worlds of physics and cosmology. If you're looking for a way to remember the famed scientist, now you can wear a watch made from parts of his desk while supporting his field at the same time.
As Esquire Middle East reports, the Bremont Hawking Collection is an elegant homage to the intellectual giant. The watches contain four wooden disks made from his personal desk. The furniture piece was one of Hawking's "most treasured possessions," according to his estate.
In addition to pieces of a real item from his home, the watches are filled with little details that honor the famed theoretical physicist. The dial is engraved with a starscape that mirrors the night sky that was visible over Oxford University the day Hawking was born (January 8, 1942). Real pieces of meteorite embedded in the device further emphasize his devotion to studying space.
Proceeds from the watch will also be used to carry on Hawking's legacy. When you purchase one, part of the cost will be donated to The Stephen Hawking Foundation. The organization supports cosmological research as well as patients of Motor Neurone Disease, the same condition Hawking lived with.
Bremont is producing the watch in limited batches: 388 of the stainless steel watch ($10,588); 88 of the platinum watch ($10,588); 88 of the rose gold watch ($23,833); and 88 of white gold watch ($25,157). The number 88 is a reference to 1988, the year Stephen Hawking's book A Brief History of Time was published.