Polymers used in a covert operation:

deceptively authentic appearance but “only”(!) plastic

When things get really exciting on a film set and the scene is too dangerous for the leading actor, the doubles and the stuntmen take over. It is their job to play with fire, to leap from enormous heights, to drive down a steep road towards a ravine in a car with no brakes. The only security the driver has: the parachute hidden under his shirt, where it cannot be seen by the audience, and his past experience, on the basis of which he tackles even such a difficult mission successfully. At the end, when the car plunges over the edge of the ravine, he can only hope that the car door doesn’t stick.

A museum, on the other hand, is not a film set and it is certainly not a place where there is tremendous danger – at least danger of the kind that requires a stuntman. However, the German press only recently reported about a case that demonstrates how important it can be to use a double even in a museum environment, in order to protect valuable exhibits against damage. This is what happened:

Some nimble thieves who were not, however, material experts obtained illegal access to the König Museum in Bonn in a cloak-and-dagger operation. They were aiming for a mockup of the African savannas or, more precisely: a stuffed rhinoceros, because they planned to steal its horn and sell it at a hefty profit.

As the media reported, the reason for this was the fact that one kilogram of horn was supposed to net them about € 50,000 on the black market. In Eastern Asia, it is said that this part of the rhinoceros’ body, which is rare on the free market otherwise because it is protected, gets temperatures down and allegedly increases sexual potency – as is already indicated by the shape of the horn – when it is ground into powder.

Since the white rhinoceros, which is an extremely impressive creature that is not exactly harmless in the wild, had of course already died and been stuffed before reaching the museum, the thieves thought that it would be easy prey.

What they did not know, however, was that the museum – in contrast to the thieves – had taken preventive measures in advance to provide protection against a possible theft. Some time ago, the genuine horn had already been cut off the rhinoceros’ body and stored in a safe, while it was replaced by a plastic substitute.

It appears that the plastic horn looked so convincingly genuine that the thieves never guessed that it was a substitute. Not even when they started to cut it off with a saw. Congratulations to the plastic; no double could have done its job better.

Incidentally: it is in actual fact a pity that the thieves were caught. Because it would have been interesting to find out what effect the powder obtained from the plastic horn and used for medicinal purposes would have had.

The doctor and the patient would probably not have noticed the difference – or would they? After all, experience has shown that plastics have already replaced other materials in an effective and sustained way in many application areas. GDeußing