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"If I had to get a new Ph.D. now, I'd get it in polymer engineering - the manipulation of matter."
- Bart Kosko

Airbag Jacket  
  A jacket or coverall with inflatable air bags throughout for protection against impact.  

She lets go of the handle and goes into free fall.

At the same time, she jerks the manual release on her cervical collar and goes into full Michelin Man mode as tiny gas cartridges detonate in several strategic locations around her bod. The biggest one goes off like an M-80 at the nape of her neck, unfurling the coverall's collar into a cylindrical gasbag that shoots straight up and encases her entire head. Other airbags go off around her torso and pelvis, paying lots of attention to that spinal column.

Technovelgy from Snow Crash, by Neal Stephenson.
Published by Bantam in 1992
Additional resources -

Special thanks to Dennis Kelly for the tip on this item.

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Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from Snow Crash
  More Ideas and Technology by Neal Stephenson
  Tech news articles related to Snow Crash
  Tech news articles related to works by Neal Stephenson

Airbag Jacket-related news articles:
  - North Face (Or Snow Crash?) Avalanche Airbag Clothing
  - Air Bag Jacket Saves Life Of Motorcyclist
  - 'Invisible' Bicycle Helmet
  - Motorcycle Racing Suit With Airbags
  - Hip'Safe Airbag For Seniors, From Helite

Articles related to Clothing
Fabrican Dress Sprayed Directly Onto Model On Coperni Runway
Hip'Safe Airbag For Seniors, From Helite
iSphere Plastique Fantastique Face Mask Alternative
Inkjet-Printed Wearable Solar Cells

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