January 18, 2005 | David F. Coppedge

Lowly Plant Inspires Waterproof Glass

By adopting the lotus position, the glass in your windshield may become so water-repellant you won’t need windshield wipers.  That’s what an Ohio State press release says: “Ohio State University engineers are designing super-slick, water-repellent surfaces that mimic the texture of lotus leaves.”  The leaves of the lotus, or water lily, are covered with microscopic bumps that resist water stains.  Soon we may have self-cleaning glass.  Everyone but the window-washing industry should be pleased.

How many generations of water lilies had to drown till the right combination of lucky heritable mutations came along?  The simplest things about plants and animals are sometimes just as noteworthy as the dazzling ones.

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Categories: Botany

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