Sorry, Brawny man. Your paper towels were always handy in a pinch for the occasional Coke-on-keyboard spill, but they fall apart when held up against this incredible nanomesh towel from the folks at MIT. Designed with the environmentally unfriendly act of oil spills in mind, this recyclable towel's potassium manganese oxide fibers absorb up to 20 times their weight in oil (which can then be recovered, for future oil spills).
Even more amazing is the fact that this mish-mash of nanowires has the look and feel of paper, but sucks up only oil, leaving every ounce of water behind. Based on that, you know what comes next, right? Water filtration, said Jing Kong, an assistant professor in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science.
And unlike most nanotechnology, the mesh is inexpensive to produce, since the nanowires can be fabricated in larger quantities than other nanomaterials. Great. Let's get huge sheets of this stuff manufactured and distributed to every oil rig, developing nation and tanker like, yesterday. [MIT News]