PhysOrg, ready for a day on the beach, reports that nanotech engineers have created waterproof sand. They expect to use it to make the world’s deserts bloom. The stuff is just like ordinary sand, but if you put a layer of it down in a field, it’ll hold water like a pond:
As DIME engineer Fahd Mohammad Saeed Hareb explains, their idea is to lay a 10-cm layer of waterproof sand beneath desert topsoil. The hydrophobic sand could serve as a water table to stop water from bleeding downward below the plants’ roots. Normally, water quickly trickles down through the sand, requiring that farmers water their plants five or six times per day.
With the new layer of hydrophobic sand, farmers would only need to water their plants once per day, decreasing water use by up to 75 percent. Another benefit of the hydrophobic sand is that it prevents underground salt from passing through the plant roots, which can kill the plants.
They didn’t say so, but I bet you could make some awesome castles out of this stuff.