July 27, 2008
Last week Margie and I were in Florida for a wedding and the parents of the groom took us out to see their farm. One of the many interesting sights on the farm was a pond, about an acre in size,that was surrounded by sacred lotus plants in bloom–some pink, some white and others almost purple. It was dazzling. Then I noticed that although there were debris and algae in the dark water on the pond it wasn’t on the lotus. So of course with my curiosity I had to find out why. Here’s what I discovered. You may already know this but I thought it would be fun nonetheless.Â The plant is called the “sacred lotus” because of its ability to stay clean even in the most foul of waters. It was that quality that most surprised me.Â How does it do that? If a leaf has no wax on the surface, water beads up on it in long, flat lens forms. That works well here in the dry air of Wyoming where the plant can hold onto the water and absorb it, so it isn’t wasted. If a leaf has wax on it the water beads are more round but have a flat bottom. This lets most water slide off as the sphere of water rolls downhill. Now lotuses have both wax AND microscopic, raised bumps, like a bed of nails. The water beads on lotus leaves are nearly perfectly round, so they roll off immediately, even with the slightest breeze. As they roll they pick up pieces of dirt that are perched lightly on the surface and both the water and dirt drop off. Neat eh?Â Now there’s a paint being made in Germany with the same quality. It’s being used in areas where there’s smog or airborne dirt. A rain storm or a simple hosing of the surface keeps the house or building clean. StoLotusan Fascade Paint is being used all over Germany and the “lotus effect” is apparently a well-known phenomenon all over that country. Watch for it here in the U.S.
Another man made a honey spoon with the waxy/microscopic-bumpy surface like the lotus. Apparently honey flows right off it and the spoon doesn’t get sticky.Â Still others are experimenting with how they can use this for car paint, fabric for clothes, etc. What a neat concept eh? Â I know the Hazers (the young men who are responsible to keep the Ranch cars clean) would love to see it on the Suburban paint because they have to wash all six of them four or five times a week.
Yours, from Wyoming, Bob Howe