Today’s post is part of a special series here on Planet Pailly called Sciency Words. Each week, we take a closer look at an interesting science or science-related term to help us expand our scientific vocabularies together. Today’s term is:
Okay, I’ve snuck into a top-secret government research facility in Nevada. I’m not entirely sure what they do here, but as a science fiction writer I have to know stuff about science. Specifically, the kind of futuristic science they do in top-secret government research facilities.
As I crouch behind some crates labeled “Roswell materials,” I overhear two of the scientists talking. “I’ve got to go put on my bunny suit,” one of them says.
Bunny suit? I couldn’t have heard that right. At first, I picture something like the Playboy Bunny outfit, in part because the two scientists happen to be women. Then a less sexist part of my brain suggests that they might be talking about an Easter Bunny costume. But that doesn’t make sense either.
Fortunately, I have my smartphone with me, and I’ve already hacked into this research facility’s wifi (the password was “password”). So I google “bunny suit science” and find out that they’re actually talking about this:
The more proper, more technically accurate term would be cleanroom suit. Cleanroom suits are those loose-fitting, papery outfits that go over your regular clothes and cover your entire body. They sometimes include a mask and goggles to cover the face, but not always.
Think of the perfectly smooth mirrors being made for the James Webb Space Telescope, or the highly precise laser instruments used at LIGO to detect gravitational waves. If you’re working with that kind of extremely sensitive equipment, the kind of equipment that could get screwed up by the slightest speck of dust from off your skin or off your clothes, then you have to wear a cleanroom suit.
Except people who work in the science biz don’t call them cleanroom suits. They call them bunny suits. That’s the kind of insider lingo that I, as a science fiction writer, can totally use in a story at some point.
Now, let’s see what else I can learn for my stories—uh oh, gotta run. The dogs caught my scent.