Science: For Rainy Days

One way to make a raincoat is to use a solid sheet of rubber or plastic that water cannot penetrate. Another and newer way is to cover the fibers of ordinary cloth with a substance that water does not "wet." Many substances have this property, e.g., the oil that waterproofs a duck's feathers. But most of them are unsatisfactory; they wear off or are easily removed by cleaning processes. The current house organ of the Dow Chemical Co. tells about waterproofing agents made of silicones: organic compounds with atoms of silicon built into their molecules.

When a drop of water hits unprotected...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now


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

Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

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