Science: Drenched Duck

SCIENCE

Sulphonated castor oil, the sodium alkyl sulphates, and the sodium salts of sulphonated alkyl naphthalenes are "wetting agents." As explained last week in Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Review, wetting agents reduce the surface tension of water (which makes it contract into drops), thus enable it to penetrate and soak water-resistant substances. Wetting agents are now used in laundries, in dyeing and tanning, in medicine (increasing the efficacy of antiseptic solutions), in tooth paste, in metalworking.

The Review then told discreetly of an unnamed scientist who decided to pit a modern wetting...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now

Subscribe
Subscribe

Get TIME the way you want it

  • One Week Digital Pass — $4.99
  • Monthly Pay-As-You-Go DIGITAL ACCESS$2.99
  • One Year ALL ACCESSJust $30!   Best Deal!
    Print Magazine + Digital Edition + Subscriber-only Content on TIME.com

Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!