Amateur inventor Maurice Ward appeared on British TV in 1990 to demonstrate a super material he invented without any scientific training. It's called Starlite, and the material could withstand temperatures of 1000 °C, was hard enough to drill holes in walls, and could easily be painted
on to surfaces. In 2011 Ward sadly passed away—without ever having
explained to a single scientist how it worked.
The real question here is why did nobody approach him when he appeared on TV to ask him about it? In this story, told by Richard Fisher in this week's New Scientist, goes on to talk about the first appearance of Starlite that has been of interest to a small but select group of people around the world.
Ward spent time talking with private companies, defense researchers and even NASA throughout the past twenty years. Ward never found anybody he was happy with to hand over his secret and when he died in May 2011, many thought he had taken his secret to the grave.
But, as the New Scientists article explains, there may still be hope. He mentioned in one interview before his death that his family knew about the Starlite recipe, though they are still remaining tight lipped. It sounds like they could be sitting on a cash cow here, hence the reason they are threading very carefully.
Go ahead and check out the article at New Scientist. It is nothing short of a fantastic read. [New Scientist]