Thanks to my son Christian, I believe the impossible. I believe in upsalite, the super-absorbent material recently discovered accidentally by researchers at the University of Uppsala. According to the Guardian report :

“Unless you work in Uppsala University, Sweden, where accidentally leaving equipment running over the weekend led to the creation of the most absorbent material known to man. Named upsalite, after the university, the creation is especially impressive as it was previously thought to be impossible.

“A powdered form of magnesium carbonate, upsalite’s structure is so porous and pitted that it has a surface area of 800 square metres per gram. That is like taking the floor space of a respectable house/flat and crumpling it up until it is tiny enough to be picked up with tweezers. Upsalite is also riddled with pores narrower than 10 nanometres. This means it is incredibly water absorbent, even at relatively low humidity, and keeps water locked up tight.”

Upsalite is a living illustration of something one of my daughters has taught me to say: “It’s bigger on the inside than it is on the outside.”

More on: Science

Articles by Peter J. Leithart

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