Scientists have developed what they claim is an "impossible" material, by accident.
Researchers at Uppsala University in Sweden apparently left an experiment running over a weekend - by mistake - only to return to their work to find they had solved a century-old problem.
The result of their - well, not quite 'work'… - is "Upsalite", a material that has remarkable abilities to bind water, and could be used in everything from air conditioning units to chemical manufacturing.
The technique involves making powdered and dry magnesium carbonate (MgCO3), by dissolving magnesium oxide and carbon dioxide in methanol. The reaction results in a material that can readily absorb water, and that has important uses across all types of industries.
The problem is that while crystalline forms of MgCO3 can easily synthesised at temperatures exceeding 100C, they aren't able to absorb water. Since 1820 researchers have sought a way to make a pure version of the dry, powdered form at lower temperatures - without success.
Until now. Because by accidentally leaving a mixture of pressurised CO2 to bubble through MgO in methanol over two days, the team at Uppsala returned to find a strange gel which - when heated to 70C - collapsed into a white powder - exactly the powder for which they'd been searching.
The material is easy to reuse, is not toxic and is apparently an extremely impressive desiccant, able to absorb water better than much more expensive materials. If it can be made in large quantities, it could be used in a huge variety of ways. Needless to say, the researchers have already created a new company ('Disruptive Materials') to commercialise the fruits of their accidental labours.
The team's work is published in the journal PLoS ONE.
Does your baby take up too much space? Is it too stinky? Thankfully, there's <a href="http://www.time.com/time/specials/packages/article/0,28804,1991915_1991909_1991746,00.html">this baby cage</a> that allows you to suspend it out your window! (Photo by Reg Speller/Fox Photos/Getty Images)
Noodle Eater Hair Guard
Ponytails are so passé. The best way to keep your hair out of your noodles: <a href="http://foolishgadgets.com/200901/noodle-eaters-hair-guard/">masks made out of paper plates</a>.
Cigarette Rain Guard
Because sometimes it's raining so hard that even your <a href="http://gizmodo.com/5039920/cigarette-umbrella-keeps-tobacco-torch-dry">cigarette needs an umbrella</a>.
Can you get any lazier? Credit: <a href="http://www.thinkgeek.com/product/cf68/">ThinkGeek</a>
Face Protectors for Snow Storms
For all of those times when a hat isn't enough to keep you warm, you can look like one of those <a href="http://www.coolest-homemade-costumes.com/coolest-the-maitlands-from-beetlejuice-costume-51.html">creepy monsters from Beetlejuice</a>? Credit: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/nationaalarchief/4193509756/sizes/o/">Flickr</a>
If you're not trying to cut your dog in half, you have no business using this device. What's wrong with a good, old-fashioned leash?
"Five-year-old Tim Gregory wears, under protest, a brush that cleans a child's neck without the use of soap and water in Los Angeles, Calif., Jan. 12, 1950. The plastic collar brush will dry-clean the youngster's neck thoroughly as he plays. The brush was developed by the Los Angeles Brush Corp. at a mother's suggestion." What ever happened to a good old fashioned bath? (h/t <a href="http://www.businessinsider.com/50-awesome-inventions-2010-9?op=1">Business Insider</a>)
Portable Record Player
Sure, records player are bulky, but so are records! We're having trouble seeing the point of this one. Credit: <a href="http://www.thinkgeek.com/product/ef06/?srp=1">ThinkGeek</a>
Flexible Flyer Snowball Maker
Because making snowballs is so difficult. <a href="http://www.amazon.com/Flexible-Flyer-Snowball-Maker-colors/dp/B000FJ4AD4/ref=sr_1_cc_1?s=aps&ie=UTF8&qid=1357234965&sr=1-1-catcorr&keywords=snowball+maker">Snowball Maker</a>.
"Jack Milford, player with the Wembley Monarchs ice hockey team, has invented a carrying device so that his baby can join his wife and himself on the ice." Ice skating is more important to this man than the safety of his child. (h/t <a href="http://byutv.org/seethegood/post/The-10-worst-inventions.aspx">ByuTV</a>)
An <a href="http://byutv.org/seethegood/post/The-10-worst-inventions.aspx">effective way</a> to roast yourself to death. (Photo by Yale Joel/Life Magazine/Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images)
At least the baby will have a great immune system after some time being used as a mop and <a href="http://www.betterthanpants.com/baby-mop.html">bathing in dirt</a>.
Double Ended Pipe
For when you and your friend want to <a href="http://all-that-is-interesting.com/bizarre-inventions">conserve tobacco</a> while also sharing a tender moment.
QuikPod Handheld Convertible Tripod
For the <a href="http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/selfie">"selfie"</a> addict with short arms. <a href="http://www.amazon.com/Quik-Pod-QP-EHHT-Handheld-Convertible/dp/B000NPCI9I/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1357233759&sr=8-1&keywords=quikpod">QuikPod</a> Handheld Convertible Tripod. (Amazon)