No, it's not a particularly severe strain of rabies (of which one of the symptoms is hydrophobia, so named because 'the victim has difficulty swallowing, shows panic when presented with liquids to drink, and cannot quench his or her thirst'). Instead, it's a new technological development that promises all sorts of revolutionary possibilities. Geek.com reports:
Metal corrodes when it comes into contact with liquid such as water, so Ross [Technology Corp.] engineers set about coming up with a coating to keep liquid away from ... steel. What they ended up with is a silicon-based spray that not only kept steel dry, it could also be applied to many different surfaces and materials.
Rather than just concentrate on steel, Ross decided to create a new product based on the spray known as NeverWet, which we should all hopefully benefit from using soon.
The spray actually uses nanoparticles and is superhydrophobic. That means it repels water and keeps a surface completely dry and stain free. While it may keep steel dry, Ross also realized it could be sprayed on products to keep them clean, and also keeps objects free of bacteria and ice.
There's more at the link, and in this report from Lancaster, PA (near Ross Technology Corp.'s facilities). Here's a video clip from the latter site, showing NeverWet's effects.
A separate company, also named NeverWet, has been set up to market the new product. Its Web site offers much more information for those interested.
This has all sorts of fascinating implications. Many commenters have focused on consumer-oriented uses such as clothing that repels water (and dirt, for that matter), but I'm looking at the larger picture. Consider the following:
- Car bodies coated with NeverWet might never rust or corrode, no matter how much salt was on the roads;
- Ships and boats coated with NeverWet might greatly improve their ability to cut through the water, increasing their speed and/or improving their fuel economy (or perhaps needing a smaller engine and propeller combination to achieve the same performance);
- Aircraft coated with NeverWet might be much more resistant to ice forming on their lifting and control surfaces, making them much safer to fly in severe weather (in other words, the ice would not be able to adhere to the surfaces, and would simply fly off);
- Military gear (tents; covers for vehicle loadbeds, weapons, and supplies; any steel structures; etc.) would probably last a whole lot longer, and offer much greater protection from the elements, if coated with NeverWet. Weapons coated with it might never rust, no matter how severe the elements to which they're exposed.
The possibilities are almost endless! This stuff could become as ubiquitous as Velcro or Teflon. Congratulations to Ross Technology Corp. for having the vision to develop it.