If you've ever contemplated a lotus leaf, you understand the plant's extraordinary ability to repel water. Thanks to widespread "folding" and "epicuticular" wax crystals jutting out from the plant's surface, the symbol of purity in Eastern philosophy readily shakes off the mud typical of its environs. The Sto Corporation's self-cleaning Lotusan exterior paint uses the plant's micro-structural qualities to remove dirt just after a rain. And while Lotusan has been around for a decade, scientists at GE's Global Research Center are now experimenting with a permanent water-resistant coating on jet engines to inhibit condensation and the potentially catastrophic icing. Thanks to its "superhydrophobicity" the treated metals will obviate the need for the time-consuming application of toxic fluids normally used for de-icing aircraft. A similar technology is already being used to treat plastic surfaces such as CDs and iPods.
Solutions to Water Supply Issues Surface in the West
In the quarter-century since Marc Reisner issued a grim prognosis for water in the American West, various entities have made efforts to reverse what once seemed inevitable.