Glassteel. Or something like it.

I remember “glassteel” being one of those fabulous, fictional substances that showed up a lot in sci-fi novels when I was growing up – the fundamental material for bubbleships and cyber-armor. Well, PhysOrg says the stuff isn’t fictional any more:

By mimicking a brick-and-mortar molecular structure found in seashells, University of Michigan researchers created a composite plastic that’s as strong as steel but lighter and transparent.

It’s made of layers of clay nanosheets and a water-soluble polymer that shares chemistry with white glue.

Tough. Transparent. Easily shaped. What *can’t* you build with something like this?